What a Surprise, A Joyful reconnection.
Taking our usual stroll on the trail with our cocker spaniel Abby, my wife and I had a very pleasant surprise this week. A boy pedaled quickly towards us with his little sister doing her best to keep pace and their parents pushied an empty stroller not far behind. As the parents approached and I was about to speak my usual "Good evening," the father smiled broadly and warmly shook my hand while explaining, "Mr. Campbell! You were my fifth grade teacher!"
Living and working in the same community for 35 years I am often rewarded with such meetings. However this meeting was unusal. You see Riley (not his real name) was probably the most difficult child I had taught in my 31 year career. He had been transferred into my classroom from a neighboring school and was full of anger and angst. Riley and I kept from killing each other and by the end of the year I believe there was a degree of mutual respect but I never heard a word about him and when he crossed my mind it was usually because of another difficult student that I encountered.
I don't like to admit it but I never expected to see Riley with a family and functioning in the adult world responsibly. His enthusiastic greeting was a delightful surprise and a true gift to my wife and me.
Upon returning home I began to wonder about the chances of that meeting on a city street or even an urban trail. The Tolt Pipleline Trail where Kathy walks almost every day and I often join her is a natural place for serendipitous moments.
There is enough room for walking the dog off lease, meeting a group of horseback riders and sharing the natural beauty with mountain bike riders. Sometimes people use the steep inclines on the trail as a place to train for mountain climbing. And some walkers just enjoy strolling to look at Bear Creek. People actually look at one another and greet each other.
Have you noticed that the larger the crowd, the more impersonal the meetings? It is almost like faces on a crowded street are veiled with suspicion and fear. You can’t walk down a city street and get anybody to look at you.
Kathy and I will be moving to Lexington, Kentucky as soon as our house closes. I would very much like to know about the trails and places in Fayette cCounty where people are willing to unveil their faces. We will miss renewing old acquaintances but we look forward to meeting people who like to walk and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings.
I would love to hear of the stories of places you can walk in your communities and connect with old and new friends. Paul