My Year of Letting Go has included letting go of time-honored, family-approved or -designed ways of celebrating holidays and special occasions. Without my parents to indulge me with gifts and outings — and no other immediate family clamoring to spend time with me — I feel, mingled with a sense of loss, a marvelous sense of relief and freedom. I can celebrate occasions as I want, in ways that are meaningful to me — or I can choose not to celebrate at all.
Today is my birthday, and I’ve wondered for weeks what I really wanted to mark the occasion. I finally settled on asking a friend to make my birthday cake (something I’ve done for myself since my mother died four years ago), then shared that cake yesterday with friends who also have August birthdays. As for today, my one day off work for this week, I wanted to explore. On my own. In new places. Out of town.
I rolled myself out of bed at 4 AM (hey, I’m a baker, that’s practically sleeping in!) and managed to hit the road by 5. I drove over an hour and a half north to Lake Erie, hoping to be at Headlands Beach for the sunrise. Unfortunately, the day started off rainy and cloudy, and the park wasn’t even open on Sundays.
So instead I started driving south and found North Chagrin Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metroparks system. I drove around and finally found Squire’s Castle, an unfinished and open-to-the-elements building that was intended to be the gatehouse for Mr. Squire’s country estate. Now it’s just a wonderful, magical little place to explore when you’re queen for the day!
A trail leads out behind the castle, into the woods and up and around hills. I started to hike one of the branches of the trail, but as I had no map, no idea how long the trail was, and no clue as to whether I’d end up back at the castle or find another trail through the park altogether, I decided to turn back and follow the loop around the grassy park in front of the castle instead. (I’ll find a map sometime and return to explore another day.)
A good start to my birthday! But there’s more to come…