Chris Raymer, ECHO Staff Reporter
As I stray from the warmth and comfort of my car, out of the parking lot and onto the walking trail, the air hits me. There’s nothing like a November evening to chill you to the bone. I walk past a team of young cross-country runners dressed in bright neon clothes, their coach yelling, “Stay close together!” as they take off, whizzing around anyone who stands in their way.
A large green billboard heads the trail, filled with flyers and brochures about the luscious park and its history. From the lock on the bulletin board hangs a small, fuzzy black glove, which the owner probably wishes they hadn’t misplaced now. Turning to my left, I set off on my brisk evening walk.
To the right, two children and their father run around, tossing a green Frisbee. Their laughter is loud and proud, the son celebrating victoriously after making a long catch. I put my head down and my hood up, walking into the wind as I enter the tunnel of trees that surround the first leg of the trail.
In the distance, I hear children on swings, the rusty structure squeaking loudly as they go back and forth. The dull slap of tennis balls against rackets echoes in the quiet air, coaches instructing young players on how to hold their rackets. I turn my head to see the players dashing up and down the courts, chasing after balls they hit out of bounds.
Walkers, 慢跑者, and runners of human and canine type dot the trail. An elderly couple in long purple winter coats pause their conversation and wave to me. I hear a faint “Hello,” as I smile and wave back. The wind chills my palm as I remove it from my pocket. I quickly return it to its warm oasis.
A small backroad greets me at the end of the first leg. Next to me is a wide-open field full of unused soccer goals, awaiting the summer weather and players sprinting back and forth on the untrimmed grass. The wind picks up briefly, and leaves drop from the trees. A small tornado of red, yellow, and orange whips up in front of me.
A father and his son stand at the end of the archery range across the road, the small green bow in the child’s hand quivering as he releases. He misses but grabs another arrow and is determined to do better. I hear a clap of approval from behind as I continue.
Sunlight briefly blinds me as I leave the shelter of the trees, a field of tall grass to my left as I pass a family with a gray, 瘦长的狗. It sticks its nose at me, reaching for a smell, but its owner pulls the dog along, walking with a purpose.
Remnants of a cross-country meet line the ground next to me, white spray-painted lines travelling through the grass parallel to the gravel path. As I make my way, a small creek bubbles off to the left. 叶子, 树枝, and branches cover the water and creek bed, burying it in anticipation of the cold months to come.
A separate trail greets me, but I continue straight ahead, ready to finish the walk and head home for dinner.
At a fork in the road, another couple, this one in matching black jackets and hats, greets me with a warm smile. I’ve nearly finished the loop now, the family with the green Frisbee coming back into my line of sight. The aquatics building is nearby, with an empty pool and closed umbrellas, leaving passersby with thoughts of warm weather and cannonballs off diving boards.
As the parking lot comes back into view, I see new walkers, 慢跑者, and runners embarking on their own journey down the trail. I finish back at the bulletin board, the glove still there, missing a hand to warm as the sun goes down on this cold November evening.