Today marks the anniversary of one of the most awful days in our country’s history. Like most people, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the Twin Towers had been attacked. Shocked and horrified, I recall moving through the rest of the day in a fog, wondering how it all could have happened, and what, if anything, was going to happen next.
Everyone knows how the rest of that story went. So many people are still living with the memories and the loss.
But life went on, day by day. People started to do normal things again, feel happy, travel, enjoy themselves, even if it took years to get there. Not everyone, but most of us went back to some semblance of normalcy in our daily lives.
And after looking through so many Facebook posts and reading the news about the day, I decided to do something very normal. Something to make myself feel good, that got me up and out of the house, moving through the world in a way that reminded me of how beautiful it can be, and that I needed to enjoy each and every day while I can.
So I took my new bike out to get her feet wet along the Feeder Canal Heritage Trail. This trail is part of a larger system, the Warren County Bikeway, which isn’t far from my house in Glens Falls. I have been jogging on part of the trail for a few weeks now, and taken my bike along a shorter route.
But I had never ventured more than a few miles from home before.
Feeling adventurous and with some vacation time on my hands, I decided to do the whole trail, or at least as far as I could go. Until I got tired, or the trail got messy, or it got to be late and I needed to turn around and head home. I just wanted to be out and away, moving, seeing, feeling the sun on my face and the world breezing by.
And though company would have been fine, I was happy to be on my own. I geared up (helmet included), took water, a snack, and my phone. I put on my favorite Pandora 80’s radio station and started off.
After a few miles of the trail pleasantly winding through and behind suburban streets, closed in by trees on one side and the canal on the other, it suddenly opened up into an unexpected vista. Hills rolled away before me, and I could see the tops of the mountains over in Vermont. Here the locks on the canal still roared, water pouring down through their thick stone walls, even after so many years.
On the trail I only met a few other people, some on bikes, some walking, some with their dogs. Everyone greeted me and I greeted them, like we were all glad to be sharing this lovely place with each other, making the most of what otherwise was an unhappy day.
And it felt so good to be out there, alive, warm, kind of sweaty and already tired, knowing I had to eventually turn back and make my way home. I felt so grateful to be able to do those things, feel them, and to be around to appreciate them.
I wished other people had the same chance, or more of those moments when they could. And I hoped for more of my own.
Loving all the scenery, I stopped often to take pictures (which provided some much-needed breaks when I had to tackle those hills on the way back up). After peddling happily for several miles, the trail ended rather abruptly, marked by a port-a-john and a construction sign, but alongside a quieter part of the canal. Here the slowing stream opened into a pretty wetland, filled with wildflowers, birds, and other animals going about their lives, moment by moment, just like me.
After my snack, some water, and a brief rest in the shade of a maple tree, it was time to start my return trip. I made it back in good time, just missing the traffic heading home from work in Glens Falls. Sore and a little sunburnt, I patted my bike and gladly put her away in the garage, came home to refreshingly cool inside air, my grateful dog, and a cold beer.
Some days are just good days, and it’s best to appreciate them when you can. This certainly became one, in spite of it not starting out that way, of the memories and numbers marked on the calendar. And I think that’s okay. Maybe even better than that; maybe it’s actually good.