One of my delights in life has always been hidden surprises. I used to be delighted to go out into our barn and look for chicken eggs when I was young. The chickens often laid them in hidden places. Looking for them was always fun. I have carried that love of hidden surprises into my adult years.
This vacation I was repairing my double hung windows. It was an ambitious project for me; 11 windows were either painted shut, had broken sash weight cords, or were somehow non-functioning. So, I decided to fix them. But I'd never done it before. A perfect vacation project. I managed in the end to get it all done, but the best part of the project was discovering the secret doors on the weight chambers, secured by a painted over screw, that easily opened to reveal the unattached weights (see photo at the left). A great surprise - and testimony to 100 year old craftsmanship of the original builders.
In northern Michigan two weeks ago I was out on a long solo bike ride, moving through a well known 10 mile section called 'tunnel of trees' along the coast. The trees were so thick that you most often could only catch a small glimpse of the lake to the west. Suddenly there was a small, open overlook to Lake Michigan. And there behind a few bushes were a couple of Adirondack chairs. Hidden. Waiting. Time for a brief stop, a long drought of water and a spectacular overlook. A cool breeze blowing in off the lake. A couple of well made chairs that were invisible to the road, unless perhaps you were moving slowly. Surprises do seem to unfold when you slow down.
I rode 6 times in a week up in Michigan, then took 5 days off and rode another 5 straight days when I was back in Pittsburgh. On one of my rides a friend had told be of a side trail I'd never noticed before. He said there were stone steps descending a steep ridge to the ruins of an old structure. That was enough for me! Off I went the next day. I found the trail, tried to descend the stairs on my mountain bike (too much for me!) and in the end scrambled down to discover this chimney in the middle of a stream/bog. Just standing there as though it had always been there. Like a stone tree, standing attentive in vigil, from season to season, from decade to decade. I'd had no idea.
And I never would have either, had I not gone looking, slowly, off the path, into the valley. It was a place with a beauty all its own, reclaimed by the forest and the stream. Ready for guests.