Modern Märchen

Today I went out for a walk in the park, which is a thing that I normally do. I have a standard route and I know how long it will take to walk.

Unexpectedly I was forced to make a detour from my normal plans.

I found myself in an unknown place, and shortly came to a bridge I had never seen before. I was startled to find this bridge, and nervous; what might lurk beneath it? With great trepidation I crossed the bridge and continued my journey.

And suddenly I realized that I was lost in the forest, all alone, with no idea which way to turn to return home and a foreboding path ahead.

I thought perhaps the forest dwellers might come to my assistance; but there were no magical beings or woodland creatures nearby, just the dark shadows of the forest.

After a few moments of wandering, I remembered the oracle I had in my pocket. I asked it for help and it slowly guided me out of the forest and to the right path.

I made my way to the gate that would take me home, but things were not right. I returned to my base knowing that time had slipped away and I could not control it.

But I am grateful the forest did not try to keep me.

So here’s the actual story of the absurdity I pulled off today:

There’s a park near my office, and most days I’ll go out for a short walk to clear my head, get some exercise, and log some birds. The park has a combo of planned and maintained gardens, old-growth forest and swamp, and open meadow. It has a variety of groomed paths and I normally take one that’s just under a mile and that can I loop through in 25-30 minutes (depending on how much birdwatching I do).

We had a record amount of rainfall last week, and some wind. The park has storm damage and part of the path I normally take was closed. So I followed the detour, lost my bearings a bit, and didn’t take the correct turn to get myself back to the usual path.

The bridge was unexpected; I had no idea it was there! And it made me nervous not because I feared trolls underneath, but because I have worse-than-typical basophobia and pedestrian suspension bridges set it off something fierce. But I felt like I needed to go that way to get back to where I needed to be.

I was wrong. In fact, I soon found myself way off the groomed park paths, on a super-steep hiking trail in the middle of the forest without a good idea of which direction I was headed. And I’d already hit my usual 30-minute walking time, and it seemed like going forward was probably going to be shorter. Not gonna lie, I had a small moment of freakout, worried I was gonna be stuck in the forest with nobody knowing where I was. But I had to figure out how to get myself out of it.

So I pulled out my phone, opened up Maps, and set it for walking directions back to my office. Wrestled a bit to get it to work the way I wanted (it was giving me compass directions, I work better with left/right commands) but eventually found my way down off the hiking trail and back onto the right groomed path.

But I walked almost twice as far as I normally do, on much steeper grades than usual (in wedge-heeled boots, no less) with a lot of it on soft muddy ground, and I was hurting by the time I got to the gate out of the park. Plus my normal 30-minute walk extended to 50 minutes, and I have to make up that time.

And the really absurd thing is that when I was on the hiking trail there weren’t even any animals! It might have been worth it if I’d seen some birds that I don’t normally encounter in the rest of the park or some other uncommon species, but there was pretty much nothing. Just a couple of fat squirrels when I started down the steep trail that laughed at me and then ran off. Woodland creature jerks.

I am the worst sort of Brothers Grimm character.

But at least nobody tried to eat my heart or trap me in a tower or lure me into a house made of sweets. Thank goodness for pocket oracles.

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