Traffic was thick as cement this afternoon and the new route home tangled me up around a toll road so that I was later than usual to the turn not far from the arboretum. I was mentally rehearsing Monday's paperwork and plotting highlighter colors, building up the kind of internal Charybdis that sucks all thoughts to lightless depths. I had pulled out the fiddle CD and was listening to an NPR fund drive. I had wedged the writer closed with ancillary workplace drama and was beating her with pledge pleas. I was becoming cruel with impatience. Perhaps I would forfeit the lift that turning for home should bring because I was already navigating by habit.
Instead, the sun graciously highlighted a maple for me. A warm white smoothed out the greenish silver of the trunk and gave the golden undersides of the leaves, otherwise a thick matte green--the color of lawns or plain green crayons--an uplit shadow and sharpness. As the light incised the tree upon its surroundings, it reminded me of the abandoned arboretum and the way I'd given it up over the summer and then picked up something else to fill my fall days such that the maples on the pathway to the pond were strangers, if they had survived last year's drought and this year's reimagining of the trails.
I didn't seek out flower fairies in the nooks and crannies of the park; rather, I imagined queens disguised as maples among the pines. And when I became lost, one of them came looking for me.