Pic-a-nic baskets

I've been thinking lately that I need to have more things to do during the week that are me-time, to give me a break from the seemingly always-on-call nature of taking care of mom during the day. My initial thoughts were toward doing things in the evening, after my shift, so to speak. But looking around the kitchen today, searching out some lunch, my prospects weren't that great, so I pondered where to go out for lunch. I could borrow Andrew's car and drive to KFC for their sauceless hot wings I've been meaning to try, or maybe try the Greek food shack at 6th and Peninsula. I also thought of walking to Avanti's to try them out, seeing as I've lived a block and a half away from them for 20 years and could probably count the number of times I've eaten there on less than one hand. As I pondered, I recalled a craving I've had the past couple days for chili dogs, and it dawned on me that I could walk to Country Fair, acquire said chili dogs, as well as a slushy and a bag of chips, then go eat across the street in Frontier Park, taking a little walk through the park afterward. This accomplished four things: 1) got me a little break from caretaker duty 2) got me walking, I could use the exercise, after all 3) got me a little treat for lunch, and 4) got me out of the house, breaking the rut I've been in lately, and into the world. I think of this was a step toward working again.

About quarter to one, I let mom know of my plans, and took care of what needs she had before I left.. Right as I stepped off the porch, a rain shower started, but it only lasted until I got a block or so away from the house. Shortly thereafter, the sun came back out again. As I walked along the south edge of the park and neared the line of parking spaces, I noticed a dark blue van with a familiar-looking person inside. As I came alongside, I saw that it was indeed my dad, who had a similar idea for lunch, and stopped at the CF and enjoyed the scenic park while eating. He and I chatted a little about his work, he's having computer issues, having difficulty getting some software licenses to work. After I said goodbye, crossing the street worked out really well; right as I pressed the walk button, the traffic light changed so that it was walkable in my direction. The store was active, not busy, but enough activity so that the employees were working diligently, and my food was ready quite quickly. I was able to get my lunch for under $5 which was a nice surprise.

Traffic was in my favor again, crossing back to the park, and I headed toward a little gazebo with benches near the creek to start eating. As I ate my first dog, I could see a bit of the creek, but lots of shoreline vegetation left me a little underwhelmed. I decided to head over to the sideways tree, and nearer the creek to look for a rocky spot to sit on, right on the shore. I found a really nice spot right across from where I came down. Balancing on the slick rocks with a tray of food in one hand and a slushy in the other was a fun challenge, and I perched on a nice rock in the sun to finish my meal. In the distance, I could hear kids playing in the water, and I spent several minutes watching the water pass over the gravelly creek bed and scattered rocks. It's hard to explain, but the enjoyment I got from watching a little canoe-shaped leaf drift along the water, around the rocks, and past my feet was a lot more that you'd probably expect. I really am an outdoorsy person, and having such a great park with woods, a marshy area, grassy fields and a creek running down the center isn't something to take for granted, not to mention the Peninsula just a couple miles away as well, but I fear that familiarity does breed contempt, and I haven't been taking full advantage of my surroundings the past few years.

As I finished up my lunch and walked home I realized that I could adapt this excursion into a regular lunch break, not necessarily every day, sometimes walking, others biking, and not always buying lunch, most times just bringing something from home out to the park Maybe Fridays I could eat out, from CF or Avanti's, and the other days “brown bag” it. Being outside, in the rain and the sun, getting to walk through the park, and having a tasty, if not especially healthy, lunch really made this a great experience, worth doing more often.

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