. . . The Centennial Trail
A few days ago I shared pictures of my neighbor on horseback making his way down to the Centennial Trail. Having a 30-mile long trail (literally) in my backyard is one of the things I love most about living where I live. Sometimes we hear whinnies or laughter or animated conversations drifting up the pasture from that trail. Often we walk it — sometimes in companionable silence; most often in needed-conversation. Here's a memory of such a conversation from a few years back … one of my favorites.
Sometimes, when he accepts that second piece of pie or another not-needed cinnamon roll, he does so only to satisfy me. And when he gives in to my urging and accepts a handful of vitamins and a glass of water, he does it to nourish me. So when he stepped back in the house before our walk today, and put on the coat he felt he didn't need, I know he did it to warm me. "It's so cold!" I'd said. "Look at the way the wind is bending the trees — you'll freeze!" The man of steel put on his coat, but he left his hands bare. He has his limits.
I'm not made of steel. So I wore not only my coat, but also a knit hat and my fluffiest gloves.
We took a right at the bottom of the driveway and started off on the trail. Ahead, I could see the Highway 9 overpass still visible against the sky … but barely. Dusk was rapidly snatching daylight.
We walked quickly, and quickly went through our unwritten lists. We talked about the kids, and Christmas, and an upcoming meeting at church. We talked about Germany, where we'll spend a month next fall, and I planted seeds for a few side trips to England, France, and Austria. "Wouldn't that be great?" I suggested. "I mean, as long as we're in the neighborhood, don't you think we should see those places?" He never makes decisions on the spot, but I know that. So I'll keep planting seeds between now and fall.
Somewhere between the overpass and the wide-open spot near the power lines, where the trees drop away and the sky shows big overhead, I became aware of a loosening of my right shoe. The tiny, click-click-click of a shoelace tip against the asphalt convinced me. "My shoe's untied."
We stopped and I began to remove the first of my gloves. Dave saw. "I'll do it," he said, bending down. I watched those ungloved hands as they took my shoelaces in hand, tugged them tight, and tied them in a bow.
"Thanks," I said. As we started down the trail again, I thought about the man at my side — the man who opens all my doors, and keeps my car full of gas, and gives me the best of all he has, and ties my shoes.
Those shoes were at odds as we walked. His was tight — so much tighter than the one I'd tied myself. It was tight like the blankets he sometimes tucks around me when I fall asleep on the couch. Had I tied that shoe myself, I would have stopped and loosened it within a few steps. But I left it just the way it was, and for the rest of our walk, I was conscious of the difference in every step.
One step felt like love.