Because I had about 45 minutes before the lecture started, I decided to take a break from the business of the conference and take a walk around Gull Pond. I had always tried to sit near the window at meals so I could enjoy looking at the pond, but I'd never ventured out, so here was my chance.
I was walking at a relatively brisk pace, intent on enjoying the walk, but with an eye on my watch, when, halfway around, I realized the pond was larger than I thought, and I wasn't going to make it back in time. My frustration was momentary. This meant I could slow down, take my time, and really enjoy this walk in the woods.
After all there were trees to enjoy--the trees I'd been writing about--one whose roots clung to a rock face like old arthritic fingers. There were frilly mushrooms. There was green velvet moss on stones.
And then a lady slipper,
then a whole patch of them.
When I was young it seemed all I had to do was step into the woods and they were there--hundreds of them--tiny pink valises, each on a single stem. I picked them, handfuls of them, even after I heard it was forbidden. I wanted to have them, hold them, own them.
So here they were again--the same tiny orchids hiding in the shade of the pines--but I had changed. I no longer wanted to capture them, but only to stop and wonder and be reminded that there is still beauty in dark places that is best beheld and not held.