When I found my apartment on Google Maps, I noticed that I’m not far from a wooded area, and made up my mind to go check it out on a day off. Today I rode out to find it, and eventually did. I got side-tracked by a brilliant roof (a tiny local shrine, it turns out), and after riding up a couple steep hills, and walking my bike the rest of the way in a sudden drizzle, I found the foot of two paths leading into a forest. I took the narrow, rougher path, and thought myself something of an adventurer. It was pebbled at first, but luckily became overgrown quickly by the forest.
The trees were tall and regular, as though they were planted by humans, growing close together and blocking out the glowing sun that took turns hiding behind the clouds and staring at me. They didn’t seem more than 30 or 40 years old (but seriously, wtf do I know about the age of a tree just by looking?), and one had fallen over across the path, pushing a few other trees away and showing the ground to the sky, creating a natural spotlight that I thought would be neat to walk through until I got rained all over as I stepped over the fallen trunk and into the soft, clean light where plants grew verdant and lush, soaking in the only sun in sight.
Open chestnut pods were strewn about, emptied by local animals whose paws are small and tough enough to get past their prickly exterior. I attempted to pick one up and was skewered several times at once.
Finally, I happened upon a large community garden with a gravel path down the middle and a view of the city, and felt thankful for the uphill push that brought me up the hill. One part was fenced off with a quaint wooden fence decorated with birdhouses, surrounding a 4’x10′ area with a little gravel path going in a right-angled U shape, with plants on either side, the tiniest personal garden designed to be walked through and enjoyed I’d ever seen. I attempted to call Nicholas, Jon and my dad, but the rain was coming down hard, and I lost the signal when I stepped into the treeline. I ate chestnuts and wandered back through the dark forest, stepped over the fallen tree, under the blink of sky that stared boldly at the opportunistic foliage, and waited out the rain under a tree. In my orange shirt and teal sneakers, I took a bite of the yellow apple I brought. As I surveyed the little path leading back to my bicycle through rain-flecked glasses, my solitude was finally a gift.