Around this time for the last few years, I have been switching my run/walk from the high school track to a local park. My drive to the park is longer and the pavement is less kind to my knees but with the start of school and the track being off limits during school hours, I have no choice but to make the switch. Still, it’s a refreshing change where the pond mirrors the trees, and a cool autumn breeze can always be felt blowing through the air. If you thought human behaviors were complex and somewhat strange, birds are no exception and, in this park where the wildlife is concerned the swans are undoubtedly the “upper crust”. Although fewer in numbers they control the lake. They swim around uncluttered as if claiming the vast expanse of the lake never leaving the safety of the water. They travel in pairs, heads up with an owned sense of superiority, never mixing with the few geese who sometimes dare to venture into the fringes of the lake. The ducks and the geese on the other hand find safety in numbers and they mostly occupy the less aesthetic, considerable smaller, muddy pond. The geese honk and the ducks splash as they waddle in and out of the sometimes-overcrowded pond and through the mud, seemingly having the time of their lives. There is an interesting but familiar dynamic between these birds and humans, but being the birds they are, it’s just “another day in the park” and they carry on unbothered and mostly oblivious to us, the temporary inhabitants of the park.
The faces of my fellow walkers have changed from a year ago and now the glances are back to being unfamiliar and fleeting. That hasn’t changed and again we’re all strangers mostly unwilling to make the first eye contact. Prior years have started out the same, but time and repetition had brought about recognition accompanied by familiar nods and friendly hellos. With time we will get there again as we have done before, I think. I find people are less willing to be friendly these days, but we shall see. Still, as the weather continues to change, I look forward to the coloring of the trees and the falling of the leaves. I will keep walking in this park until the cold weather forces me into my basement for the winter. Until then, I intend to enjoy this rejuvenation of my mind, body and soul in this place where twelve mundane laps around a track have been transformed into two scenic runs among the trees, please pray for my knees. That is the beauty of change!