I returned a few hours ago from my home town of Westchester, Illinois, a mere 13 miles from downtown Chicago, visiting with my sister and her girlfriend. Since they're both training for a marathon, we decided to take our runs, as my sis reported, on a bit of land that's near the last of the prairies in Illinois.
A trailhead greeted me about 14 minutes into my run, a trail that I'd traveled down about 50 feet many times as a child. It was singletrack, wet, green, and beautiful! I rushed in at full sprint, dodging several fallen trees, tip-toeing past 2 deer, and rushing across piles of poison ivy. This was unbelievable! This had been here my entire life as a kid? It smelled so damned FRESH everywhere! Well, and incredibly stinky, due to the creek, but I was awed by the sights and smells of something I'd taken for granted my whole life.
I breezed along the shady track until I came upon an asphalt bike path that stretched along Salt Creek, where my sister and her girlfriend and I converged, shared some typical "how's it going?" words, and then split off.
After 1 1/2 hours, I emerged from the woods and decided to tack on another 30 minutes by running up to my high school. I was a tourist, on foot; in my hometown for the first time in at least 6 years, and it was eye-opening. All of the views I took for granted in my youth were opened to me with an outsider's eye; all the little, strange intricacies that constructed my past became blaringly apparent and unique.
Aslo unique and eye-opening:
Westchester's old motto:
"A good place to live."
Westchester's improved motto:
"A good place to live...and shop."