August Afternoon

There came one of those weekend days that followed a brutal week of working too many hours. I had not had time to return any of my friends’ calls about plans for the weekend, and I was so fried, all I could think about was sleeping in and not having anywhere to be. I slept until almost 1:00 Saturday afternoon and woke up to see it was a perfect August afternoon. I was in a pleasant fog of being not-fully-awake, and didn’t feel like seeing anyone, but I wanted to get out and get a taste of the sunshine. I decided I would ride up to the Buddhist meditation center and walk the grounds.

It appeared someone had mowed the grass trail recently and it looked like a green carpet. It had been decades since I had spent the entire summer barefoot and grown shoe leather on the soles of my feet, and I knew my feet were tender, but I had to feel the grass. I took off my shoes and the path felt like velvet under my bare feet. There were big lazy bees buzzing in the purple clover by the side of the trail and a few fluffy white clouds in the otherwise spotless blue sky overhead. Even though I had ridden more than an hour to get there, I still felt the dopiness of recently waking up, and my head was delightfully clear of any thoughts at all.

Just before I reached the crest of the hill where the trail turns into an open field with a view of the valley, my foot stepped on something sharp. I stopped to look and it was the wristband of a green Fitbit that blended into the grass perfectly. I stuck it in my pocket, thinking I would leave it in the parking lot in some obvious and conspicuous place so whoever lost it could easily find it.

When I reached the field, I stopped at the edge to take in the view of the valley. The sunlight sparkled on the surface of the river several miles off, and the hills on the far side looked blue and misty in the distance. My eyes swept down the hill and I realized there was a bench under a tree about halfway down I had not noticed before. And there was a figure on the bench I could not make out because it was in the shade of the tree.

The figure waved to me and I waved back, thinking it was simply a friendly inmate of the meditation center completing their afternoon contemplation. But as I started along the trail at the edge of the field, a woman’s voice called out, “Hello.” Yelling across the field to her seemed unbearably awkward, so I walked in the direction of the bench, still carrying my shoes. When I was still several yards off, she said, “Hi, could you tell me what time it is? I seem to have lost my watch.”

I consulted my phone and said, “It’s a few minutes before 4:00. But did you lose a watch or a Fitbit?”

“Actually it was a Fitbit.”

“With a green band?” I asked.

“Actually yes! Did you see it?! Oh, that would be such a relief!”

“Yes, but I wouldn’t have found it if I hadn’t been silly enough to take off my shoes. By the way, do you mind if I share your bench to put my shoes back on?”

“Of course not, here, sit down. Oh, thank you. I’m so happy you found this!”

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