Thursday, November 16, 2006

What Does "Lake Loop" Mean?

Although no one has specifically asked, I thought perhaps the time has come to explain the origination of the name Lake Loop. Quite simply, I have found that I get some of my best thinking done while walking alone in the woods. It brings me to a state of mind that is completely unattainable for me through any other means, something I struggle even to describe.

To be clear, I am not a total recluse; I do enjoy walking with close friends or family members. Hiking with others brings it’s own set of pleasures: the intimacy of matched paces, the delight of shared experiences. However, when walking with a friendly associate, the tendency is to lapse towards conversation. This is wonderful for purposes of companionship, of course, but does not lend itself so frequently to peaceful reflection.

I find loop trails to be particularly satisfying, not just for solo jaunts of introspection, but for hikes of all variety. Something about ending up back where I started without retracing my steps makes me feel like I’ve made efficient use of my time, gotten the most bang for my buck. The loop need not circle a body of water, but that is an added bonus.

Exploring new areas is exciting, but the contemplative nature of the walk is especially powerful on a familiar trail. There are several parks in my area featuring trails that wind all the way around a small lake. At both Second Home Nature Center and Pretty Colour Lakes, the loop trails are approximately three miles in length.

As it’s name suggests, Second Home Nature Center is a place I have spent a lot of time over the years. Right from birth, I pretty much grew up there. My ties to the land go back far beyond me, though. Before her death at 99 years of age, my great-grandmother’s house had been in the family since it was built in 1822; her land abutted that of Second Home Nature Center. Generations of my kin have roamed these same woods. I went to the day camps there as a school kid, and volunteered there summers in high school. I could go on and on. My connections to this place are infinite, but for the sake of brevity and privacy, I won’t detail them all here.

In the summer of 1998, I was in graduate school, working on campus. SodaBoy had recently finished his B.A., and had just started his crummy McJob. He didn’t have a car yet, and was working a strange shift, noon to 9 pm. He’d take the bus to work in the mornings, which was a bit of an ordeal. He had to get a transfer downtown, and would arrive early, often getting a cup of coffee in a nearby hotel lobby before clocking in. He had to leave two hours in advance, even though it was only a 20 minute drive to the office. To spare him the indignity of spending four hours a day on transport, I would pick him up at night (plus the bus lines didn’t run both routes he needed that late).

Almost every evening that entire summer, before driving over to the cube farm to fetch SodaBoy, I’d head out to Second Home Nature Center, and walk the Lake Loop Trail. I got a lot of thinking done during those laps. So many memories there, so much of my own personal history evoked by the simple, repetitive motion, around and around. If I ever write a memoir, I decided that summer, I would call it Lake Loop. So here I am, all these years later. This blog is not a memoir per se, and I haven’t written much about Second Home Nature Center before, but there you have it. That’s where the name came from.


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Cool. I could write my own stories about Second Home Nature Center! Boy oh boy have I got stories from there!

I know what you mean about walking alone. I love both walking alone and walking with others. One is contemplative, the other an oportunity to catch up while doing something useful and hopefully fun!

Erin said...

Well said.