Thursday, July 22, 2010
Little Girl Lost
I've only read one Stephen King novel...about a 14-yr-old girl who was lost in a forest after getting separated from her family on a camping trip.
In retrospect, that was who I was last nite at 8:30 p.m., lost in the little woods behind my house, an adventurous 14-yr-old who could not find her way home.
At 8 pm I told Scott I'd walk him to the train station, a short 18-minute jaunt down Davisville Road. To get there, we cut thru the little woods in my backyard, then thru the parking lot of Keystone Screw, then the driveway that houses several huge office bldgs and warehouses and on out onto Davisville.
See the moon? Scott pointed out onto the left. I nodded at the three-quarter moon, high in the darkening sky.
He asked if I'd need to borrow his flashlite when I was coming home thru the woods.
No, I said, wondering vaguely if I'd remember where 'the path' was that led to my backyard. The path was quite overgrown and filled with hazardous poison ivy and tree roots that were easy to trip over even for an adventurous 14-year-old.
I'd suited up in my jeans and wore a long-sleeve shirt against the mosquitoes but was now busy unwrapping the shirt and tying it round my waist, as I huffed and puffed due to the extreme heat and humidity and steepness of the hills.
Are you all right? Scott asked as we marched up the sidewalk of Davisville Road toward the faraway train station.
Yes, I said. Do you always walk this fast?
But I kept up with him as we walked past the under-construction Settlement Music School and noticed the workmen had replaced the beautiful blue insulation with gray tiles. Should be stunning, I thought, except it was so close to the street we lacked a commanding view.
Two other people waited at the train station, each seated on their own bench, a young bored-looking woman who looked down at the palm of her hand where she held her digital apparatus, and a man in an animated phone conversation in another language.
Scott and I paced back n forth while waiting for his train.
Clang! clang! clang! The crossing-gates lowered themselves with a red flurry of excitement and the train came toward us. I knew that tonite was Scott's Friday, as he calls it, the last workday of the week. On Friday, the two of us would head for the shore.
After we kissed goodbye, I took the hill back up to Davisville Road. How nice it would be to stop in the cool A/C Kremp's Florist. I could thank them again for the delicious choc-covered pretzels and candy I'd bought for our guest speaker. I only had one piece myself, the speaker would never know, and I followed the piece of chocolate caramel, tiny, I must say, by eating a fresh apricot from Solebury Orchards.
But I was in a hurry to get home. Darkness was coming on and I wanted to reach the little woods before the mosquitoes ate me alive and before I sweated to death. My jeans were tight and hot.
I marveled again how much fun it is walking. You see so much. You can think. And simply the motion of walking, swinging your arms, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Now I was ascending the hill of Elmar Blinds and Keystone Screw, a really tough hill when you're already tired, but it's the hill that means Home. Darkness has fallen swiftly but I can still make everything out. In some latitudes, I've read, darkness falls within seconds. Not here. We have plenty of time for our eyes and spirits to adjust.
Now I'm walking back and forth in the parking lot behind the little woods looking for the path that will lead directly to my house. Darn! Where is that path? I'd just been down it 20 minutes ago and I can't find it.
The underbrush was so thick I couldn't even see the strip of five or six houses on my block that usually gave me my bearings. I did see houses, but they all looked the same.
You will just have to plunge in, I told myself...walk thru the thick foliage until you stumble upon the path. Shouldn't be that hard. Just...step...into...the woods.
Well, of course it was quite a tangle. I selected a pile of sticks to walk on. Someone had dumped their yard debris there but it looked safe and dry so I stepped on it and walked forward, my long-sleeve shirt protecting my arms from the brambles that were now attacking me.
Still, there was no path to be found.
Suddenly, I saw a house straight ahead. I don't care whose yard I'm gonna trespass in, I thought, I've gotta get out of here. By now I was walking in knee-high grass, ducking low to avoid brambles, and simply heading for the house where no lights shown.
The weeds were now waist-high. It was not exactly the Amazon jungle but it was not comfortable. You took one step and you disturbed bugs who came out -- not a lot of them, I don't wanna exaggerate -- but it was unexpected and it was not pleasant.
Heading toward the house, I saw that the owners had erected a small fence as a barricade against the forest. I laffed silently as I noticed the power of the forest against the tiny manmade fence that it clambered over. Fortunately the fence was low enuf so I could step over it.
The topography was very strange. Completely hilly. Up and down. Up and down. Now I'm trespassing thru their backyard. But no one's home. Where am I? Is this the house with the Autism Awareness sign on the car? No. It's the home where the For Sale sign went up two months ago.
They left their BBQ grill there and some kids' toys. The yard was totally fenced in and overgrown with weeds. This is the jungle that all our yards revert to when man has gone.
A latched gate would let me out but I squeeze thru a narrow opening so I won't have to unlatch it. Sweat is pouring off me and I can't wait to drink a glass of iced-cold water and to hit the cooling shower.
I also can't wait to tell Scott about my adventure. Not only will he be shocked, but he will tell me what landmark I missed when I was trying to find the path.
My dahlias were waiting for me this morning.