Shin Deep

Just west of where we live is a small waterfowl preserve. One clear morning, I grabbed my camera and decided to take some fall foliage pictures and maybe catch photos of some ducks or other creatures.

There’s a rustic, meandering path through grasslands, then a marsh area, and it ends at a small pond. Early in the hike the route led to the edge of an area of cattails. There hasn’t been much moisture this late summer and fall and the area looked pretty dry, so I thought I’d take a shortcut to the pond. When I got shin deep in mud, I rethought that plan and slogged my way back to find the trail.

As the path continues, there are a couple low wood bridges, basically just to lift you above the muck. It was a frosty morning and as I stepped onto the bridge, I slipped and flipped onto my back into the reeds. I took account of my camera and evaluated the status of my body. As I turned to get up, I noticed the sun shining through frosty grasses. I shot a couple of pictures of the sun and grass, while lying there on my bed of reeds.

All parts intact, I continued down the path. As the trail neared the pond, there was no clear direction. It looks like people have plowed their way through the grasses toward the water, whichever way they felt might be the best course. As I’m about as dainty as a rhinoceros, most of the waterfowl had moved safely out of range of me and my telephoto lens when I reached the pond.

About four months ago, I retired. I had been thinking about it for a year or so and was encouraged by some friends and our financial advisor to make the change. It’s also nice to end your career on your choice and when it feels the right time to make the break.
The first few weeks are great. There’s a morning sports show I enjoy, been able to wear comfy clothes all day, make a Starbucks run whenever I felt like it, and there aren’t phone calls and emails waiting to be answered.

But I haven’t fully found my way yet.

This past week or so has been a bit sloggy for me. I’ve had a couple of minor health issues. It’s easy to wonder what lies ahead and was there significance in what has gone on before? I’ve not been motivated to write, which is something I have enjoyed. Some days are lonelier than I expected. Quickly, you realize your world has gotten smaller, that you’re not part of decisions, phone calls, and emails.

But there has been sunlight through frosty grass discoveries. I like being available for the grandkids and family. I like being able to arrange coffee with friends. I like wearing the same sweatshirt and jeans or not shaving for a few days. I like having more time to help with Kids Against Hunger Sioux Falls and our Haiti Alive ministry. I like having time to read. I like doing small projects. I like being able to walk or take a bike ride whenever.

My hope is there are paths ahead that will lead to places I hadn’t thought were possible or available. And to turn around when I’m shin deep.

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