Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today's fortune: May 14, 2011

Today's fortune: Visit a park. Enjoy what nature has to offer.

I suffered an attack of paranoia a few days ago when the web hosting service I use for this blog crashed for several hours. The end result of that scare was that I backed up all my blog posts onto my computer and an external hard drive. In the course of that process, I discovered this fun fact: during the four-and-a-half months since this blog went live, nearly 92,000 words have appeared on this blog. Most of them were penned by myself, but quite a few were written by David Crowe (in bed) and scores more came directly from the fortune cookies themselves (that fortune above, for instance, contributed nine words).

That officially makes this the largest writing project I've ever undertaken, with the possible exception of my decade-long journalism career (the words would be nearly uncountable, I would think). My unpublished novel checks in at just over 80,000 words.

This may not seem like it has anything to do with today's fortune, but really, it does. Because my writing career was nothing until I visited a park.

Park University, that is. My alma mater. I received a journalism degree there in 2003, and under the tutelage of a brilliant instructor I learned now only how to write well, I learned how to write for a living.

Today, I decided to go for the park trifecta. Jamie and I drove to the town of Parkville, Missouri; we drove through the campus of Park University; and we took a stroll through English Landing Park to enjoy what nature has to offer.

The university is on the outskirts of Parkville, and we pulled in there first. Even though I've done it before, I narrated the driving tour for Jamie, pointing out the dorm rooms, the entrance to the university's massive underground system, and the buildings where I had classes, including the beautiful McKay Hall, the most recognizable structure on campus:

After exiting the campus, we followed 9 Highway into downtown Parkville. It's a lovely town that hasn't been turned into a row of dumpy bars like so many college towns. It's classy. And there are a goodly number of good restaurants.

Finally, we stopped by English Landing Park. It's a beautiful place, right along the Missouri River. I used to go there all the time during college to take walks and to read books. Jamie and I used to make out there when we were dating. I would have attempted to make out with her today, but now that we're married she doesn't hesitate to punch me if I try to get fresh.

Instead, we sat by the river and we discussed what today's fortune means: what does nature have to offer?

Jamie talked about her love of animals. We watched birds flying along the river and diving down into the water to bathe, and we watched a tiny, angry bird tormenting a large, annoyed blackbird.

I talked about the river.

The Missouri has been channeled to the point where it would be unrecognizable to the Indians living in this area two hundred years ago. I pointed to a line of hills on the other side of the river, then I pointed back toward downtown Parkville. "This river used to cover all of this," I said. "It was over a mile wide in places, and only a few feet deep."

The river was high and angry tonight, which doesn't bode well for the folks in the path of the Mississippi River flooding this week. It also reminds me that at any time, the river could rise up to claim its rightful territory. You or I or the Corps of Engineers could do nothing to stop it.

Nature is a wonderful and scary thing. Sometimes, a stroll in the park is the best way to realize that.


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