I remain ever amused by the manner in which large and open outdoor spaces make you feel as if you are supposed to be as quiet as possible. More space, more trees, more beauty of nature…less voice. When you’re exploring a large and open outdoor space alone, as I was today, there is a sanctity to the process that makes me feel as if my voice needn’t be heard at all. Hush up, Victoria. Just appreciate what’s around you.

I had spent somewhere between an hour and two exploring the Arnold Arboretum early this afternoon, taking advantage of what I fear may have been one of the last genuinely gorgeous autumn days of the season. I’d been hoping to make the short trip all summer and fall, and the brilliant blue skies today convinced me that the day had arrived.

I’d wandered about – climbing hills, dancing on paths to the sounds feeding into my earbuds, exploring and searching (in vain, without a map to guide me) for Peters Hill – when I’d decided to return to the T and travel back home. My camera was loaded up with images, and I’d fallen in love with the space and the sense of tranquilty.

It was on the footpath back to Forrest Hills that a large dog loped toward me. A woman with short hair followed shortly thereafter. “I’m sorry, but have you seen a digital camera? My camera fell out of my pocket.”

I looked down at the camera around my neck, then glanced around me quickly. When I opened my mouth, I realized that I’d all but refrained from speaking at all for several hours. “I haven’t, but I’ve spent most of the day looking up. Where had you been?”

“Exactly – I’ve been doing the same thing. I’ve been all over. I’m retracing my steps.”  I thought of how much of a panic I would be in, were I in her position.

“I’ll keep my eyes open. If I see it, I’ll shout to you. Sound good?”

“Thank you so much!” She set off with the dog going in one direction, I resumed my walk in the other.

I hadn’t expected to find a camera amid the trees and rocks, but I spotted shiny metal and plastic less than five minutes later – and realized that I didn’t know the girl’s name.

So I did the next best thing. I picked up the camera, turned to see if anyone else was around, and then shouted as loudly as I could. I broke the relative silence of the footpath, letting my voice bounce off of the nature around me.

“I FOUND THE CAMERA!”

It turns out that she hadn’t heard me; she, like I, had been listening to music through earbuds. I did find her – I set off in a jog back down the path and came across her thrilled self so that I could hand over the missing device and listen to her relief and joy over the discovery. I was able to do a good deed and help someone out, which in turn made my day all that much better.

But my favorite part of it was letting out that shout. I’d grown tired of being so quiet.

(click here to see the complete set from the day)

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