I returned to Walden on Thanksgiving, this time accompanied by my daughter. It is the second year Kari and I have joined the many visitors who spend a part of Thanksgiving Day walking at Walden: a tradition that for us seems to have grown out of our common need to spend time in quiet comfort of nature since losing Kari’s twin sister Jesi.
…Thanksgiving is the first in the second year of ‘holidays’ we have to navigate since Jesi passed away in September 2014…
Yet unlike last year, neither Kari or I mentioned Jesi. I am sure we both thought about her though. For me, I can never visit Walden without thinking of Jesi, still seeing her smile at the place she sat on a rock munching an apple or tip toed in the shallow water calling out how cold it was or took photos of tree roots pushing their way through dirt and stones. Over the last year, however, Kari and I have evolved so that this visit, the focus was less on our sadness and more on us chatting about what is going on in life now. I feel very grateful that I have been able to develop such a close relationship with Kari, who is in her senior year of high school and applying for college and I listened to her excitedly informing me of her progress in compiling her applications. Occasionally I would jokingly change the subject, interjecting about how pretty the water looked when it was still and where it would be sheltered from the breeze today, impressing upon her my knowledge of the pond through my daily study of it during the swimming season.
But Kari’s company was not all I was grateful for at Walden. As we were walking along the shore on the south side of the pond a text came through on my phone. I had been thinking about my swimming buddy Cathy earlier in the day but it was at this moment that she texted wishing me a happy thanksgiving, mentioning how our swims during the fall were on the top of her gratitude list.
Cathy was right, Fall was a marvelous season of swimming this year, and I too am very grateful. Walden is a gift that we and many other open water swimmers share. The best kind of gift of all.