Open spaces

I’ve always enjoyed open spaces, but they’ve taken on a little more importance since so many places are closed right now and people are cooped up in their houses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s also the second day of WordPress Discover prompts, in which I have resolved to participate just to see if I can manage a post every day in April.

Today’s prompt is “open.”

Since I don’t want to sit and fret about what’s closed for the foreseeable future, I figured I’d jot down a few snippets of my memories from places like parks and prairies.

Read on if you care to join me for a walk through the open spaces in my mind.

I am a fan of parks.

They’re good for a lot of things, but lately they’ve proven pretty good for stories.

I guess when your walk in the park looks like mine, you tend to stand out as much as you stand up.

For example, one of the last walks in a park I took before the corona crackdown was a trip to see Florida’s tallest waterfall.

I called before I made the trip, just to make sure I’d see more than mist.

The park people assured me the fall’s flow was good so I hit the road.

It was Super Bowl Sunday. It’d been a chilly week so I wore a jacket, which was a grievous error in judgment because it was 70 outside.

I’d worked up a sweat by the time I saw the sinkholes and ferns along the Falling Waters State Park boardwalk.

I was drenched by the time I made my way down to look at the 73-foot waterfall and back up the stairs to the overlook.

I didn’t take my jacket off because I didn’t want to carry it in one hand and my cane in the other so I just stood there and hated my decision not to leave it in the truck.

A guy walked up beside me, and water plummeted into mist for a while before I said it was a nice day to watch a waterfall.

He looked at me and said, “Yeah, but isn’t this difficult?”

I guess he noticed the steady stream of sweat down my face.

I told him it just wasn’t a good day to wear a jacket, which was all he needed to hear before he launched into a tale of his travels.

The exact details are fuzzy since I didn’t make a note of them, but the gist was he’d retired at Christmastime, when it was below-zero cold.

He wanted to get out of Minnesota so he got in an RV and made his way down the east coast, but he wasn’t sure where to go next.

I suggested he head west to see Texas, then stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.

I told him to peer across the Painted Desert before he stared at the Grand Canyon at sunset.

Then my mind drifted back to the Badlands.

The park stretched for miles of mesas and prairie, and I told him about the guy I saw there who had to run from a ram.

I told him about Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, buffalo and just how expansive South Dakota seemed.

When I told him I took a short walk in Central Park, and about the time I got to stare across New York harbor from the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal he seemed sold.

We parted with a handshake, and he headed off to who knows where.

I hope he’s home and healthy now.

Maybe he confronts coronavirus closures like me, grateful for the memories of open spaces in his mind.

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