The park is surprisingly busy for a late fall afternoon where the cold and damp worm their way up sleeves, down backs and through not enough layers of clothing. There is little beauty to offset the biting air - fall's fireworks are heavy wet ashes dripping from branches, sliming the trail, dimming what little light the sun still offers. But it's not raining. That alone may be enough to account for all of the company I have today.
Many families are here with kids shrieking on the merry-go-round and the swings and the slides. Fishermen wander along searching for the perfect hole the will reveal the perfect fish. Couples walk hand in hand, heads bent in intimacy that radiates outward in quiet laughter or a choral greeting to fellow walkers.
I'm at the halfway point of this day's walk, making the turn for home, cutting through the parking lot, when I notice a small dented pickup pulled straight into a parking space right next to a mid-size SUV that is backed in. Something about those two cars catches my eye, but I'm actually past them and headed up the hill out of the park when I realize what I've seen.
Two pale hands form a garland between the two cars, holding each other in what feels like an embrace. I circle back to confirm what my memory has sketched lightly - one male, one female hand, holding each other across the short distance between the two vehicles.
I read longing in the suspension of limbs. And a story of stolen moments. Maybe heartbreak.
Why else would they be holding hands from separate spaces? Why aren't they walking together? Sitting in one car together?
I make myself continue along my own journey. It's their story, not mine. But the picture of two pale hands, holding each other and something unknown in the cold space between seasons, won't leave me. It's unsettled me and I don't know why. And so the rest of my walk is spent sending them love and a wish for peace. What else can I offer? How else can I help? Who else will know?
photo from Flickr