#482 – Dick Bernard: The Can Lady and other park stories

I’m an addictive walker, and when I moved to this suburb 11 years ago one of the first priorities was to find a good walking route.
Windwood Passage and Carver Lake paths filled the bill nicely then, and still do. Two and a half miles each and every day (except when ice and snow drive me to presumably safer routes.)

Entrance to Windwood Passage/Carver Lake Trail on a drizzly fall day.

We – humans and other – ‘birds of a feather’ are out there enjoying our community woods. A small gaggle of deer have so lost their fear of we humans that an inattentive walker can almost physically stumble into one on occasion.
We humans help to make the park into a little home town.
I was thinking of this this week when I delivered a bunch of aluminum cans over to Deann on one of our neighborhood streets.
Deann is the ‘can lady’, and I don’t think she’d mind being called that.
She and I ‘crossed paths’ fairly early on, but it took a long while before we got around to exchanging pleasantries of the day. (That ‘distance’ has long passed. Today she noted she and her friend hadn’t seen me for awhile, and wondered how I was doing. “Fine.” Our park schedules apparently haven’t meshed lately.)
The first times I saw Deann she was checking out the garbage cans in the park. Turned out she was rescuing aluminum cans that had been tossed by visitors.
It took a number of years to get to talking about this activity: yes, the cans have resale value, and part of the proceeds go as a donation to her church. She has a very interesting story, small parts of which I have begun to learn, and she is someone I look forward to seeing.
There are many others who share these walking routes on a regular basis, each adding to the character of our community.
Take the several ladies I tend to see on Saturday morning. Used to be they had two large dogs with them. Last time I saw them, the larger dogs were replaced with smaller ones. “What happened?” Both of the dogs had succumbed to some kind of dog ailment. Most every pet owner can identify with this loss.
Or the man I saw frequently this summer, pushing his Dad in a wheelchair for a walk in the park. Once he and I stopped to chat, and he, like I and a number of others, have something of a obsession to keeping trash picked up. He went above and beyond the norm, down to pick up trash at the edges of the ponds along the route. His Dad has good reason to be proud of his son.
I’m quite certain there are occasional ‘edgy’ situations in the park, but in all my years there I’ve witnessed only a couple – both vandalism related.
Soon there will the permanent snow of winter, and the visitors to the trail will decline until the spring.
One winter a large flock of ducks defied the weather and stayed all winter on one of the ponds off the Windwood trail. But they were, shall I say, very odd ducks. Their incessant paddling was about all that kept the pond from freezing.
Soon we say farewell to fall, and settle in for a hopefully tolerable winter.

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