On a nice early fall afternoon, I met my friend, Paul, for a happy hour hike at Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield.
It has been years since I last visited Wood Lake Nature Center, although I used to run there frequently. Wood Lake is a gem in the city with trails around marshlands and some forest. Planked walkways take you across the marshy area. If you need a nature fix and can’t get out of town, it is a wonderful place to go.
It began with cookies
Paul is an old high school friend. We met in an awesome art, music and theater class taught by Mr. Stotts, a favorite teacher, during our senior year. Every day Paul had cookies in his lunch that he kindly shared with me so we became friends! Paul and I started hanging out at the University of Minnesota Extempore Coffee House to hear music. We saw some big name performers before they got famous, including Bonnie Raitt. Paul was also my first visitor when I went away to the University of Minnesota Duluth. I met him at the bus station; then we got hopelessly lost trying to find our way back to the campus — in a blizzard.
Until now, I had hiked alone and wasn’t sure I wanted to hike with anyone. When Barry was first diagnosed, I didn’t know how to talk about it. I wasn’t even sure of my own feelings about what was happening. But on this hike, it felt easy to talk about it with a good friend.
Two types of friends
I always have to remind myself that I don’t have to carry this burden alone. I realize now as we move forward with Barry’s dementia that as friends reach out, I need to learn to let them. There are other friends who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t reach out to Barry or me. I have to learn to accept that, too.
This afternoon it was just fun to share great high school memories. (Rolling Stones Concert, Paul!!) We walked fast and did a couple of loops, covering a ton of subjects along the way. There was a beautiful sunset on the marsh by the time we finished. A happy hour hike isn’t complete without a happy hour, so we headed to an old hamburger joint nearby, had a couple of well-earned beers and a few more laughs.
When I got home, Barry was watching TV alone as usual. I felt so sad for him. He has very few friends at this point. I didn’t tell him about my hike.
For information on Wood Lake http://www.cityofrichfield.org/index.aspx?page=241