At lunch, I usually take a walk, just to get away, out of the office.
I often walk along the old pipeline above Indian Creek. It’s a little different now than when I was a kid. The water is gone and the pipe has fallen into disrepair, but most of it is still there. When I was a kid, there was no trail here; I would walk on the wooden pipe, balanced above the briars and the poison oak.
I remember feeling the water coursing beneath the wood staves, sending a cool, throbbing vibration through the soles of my Converse sneakers. Here and there, water would spray out, sparkling and refracting the sunlight. The damp wooden surface of the pipe was darkened around the leaks and slick as snot. A slip meant tearing my pants and gouging my flesh on the rusty iron hoops that held the pipe together. The blackberries below formed an almost impenetrable mat of thorns. No, you didn’t want to fall off the pipeline, and, with diligence and luck, I rarely did.
This time of year, more light got through the trees. Blue bellies and alligator lizards would sun themselves, sprawled motionless on the boards until the last minute of my approach. As I neared they would scurry away, leaping onto the uphill bank and rustling through the fallen leaves as they escaped.
Now, years later, I walk on a broad path alongside the ruins of the old, wooden pipe. I am no longer a kid. The pipe is empty. There are large holes in it, some sections are missing and the iron hoops are loose and falling off. But the trees and the blackberries and the warm autumn sunshine remain the same. Lizards still scurry through the fallen leaves as I walk.