The Secret Path

I have lived in the Newport, Oregon area for 13 years. I drive down Nye Street to Sacred Heart Church several times a week, but I had never noticed the path before. I suppose it blended in with the houses and driveways and I was always too busy trying not to hit kids, cars or dogs with my Honda. Yesterday on foot, I found a magical place.

I had taken Annie with me to the church, having forgotten to turn in my time sheet again (I forget every month; maybe they should go electronic). My restless dog hadn’t been away from home for a whole 48 hours, and she was delighted to jump into the car, coating the seats with her yellow fur again. She sat up tall, staring out the window, watching the world go by. At church, time sheet turned in, she leaped out and we started our walk.

First we slipped behind the church and down the steps to the baseball field next door, where three people were tossing a chartreuse tennis ball around. Annie froze, staring at the flying ball. I explained that sometimes balls are actually not being thrown for the dog. She found this puzzling.

We went on, beginning on Nye Street, then taking a series of right turns that led us down streets I had never noticed before. We passed salt-water-taffy-colored cottages with ceramic seagulls and stained-glass peace signs in the windows and turned into a tree-covered gravel road that took us to another street and another. I started to wonder how long this walk would turn out to be. I was beginning to sweat despite the foggy weather.

At last I saw Nye Street and turned back toward the church, but two blocks before the ball field, I noticed an opening on the west side of the road. A paved path. Trees. The trickle of a creek. “Annie, come on,” I said.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. In the middle of Newport, I had found a beautiful nature trail. Lined with conifers, alders and wild blackberries, it was a wonderful place to get away from the tourist traffic. Annie dashed from one alluring smell to another as I wondered how I could have missed this trail.

We walked and walked, finally coming out at a children’s play area and a roller skate park. A sign said it was Sam Moore Park. I had heard the name but thought it was somewhere else.

We were a long way from the car now, closer to the beach than the church. We slogged uphill, at least one of us feeling tired and thirsty and noting the complaints of aging knees that had gone too far. But we will go back another time. What a gift.

Two lessons learned: Sometimes a forgotten errand can lead to nice surprises, and you can see a lot more if you get out of your car.

Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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