After the FedEx truck pulled away I walked to a nearby overlook to enjoy the view and take a few photos. The valley below had changed little in the twenty-seven years I had hiked in this area. Despite the ominous dark clouds I felt my spirits lift as I looked out over the verdant forest and farms below.
When I turned to leave I was surprised to find the “robo hiker” standing nearby. “I’m sorry if I startled you. I just didn’t want to intrude, you looked very peaceful sitting there. I need to apologize for venting earlier. I’m sure you didn’t come out here to listen to an old bucket of bolts like me complain prattle on. Anyway, I’m sorry and was wondering if you would share a pint of ice cream with me.”
As we sat at the picnic table enjoying the walnut maple ice cream he shared a funny story about hiking in the national park. “I was standing in the White Oak Canyon parking lot and there was a commotion nearby. One of the trail horses got spooked when he saw me and was frantically trying to get back to the stables. I really wanted to help the young rider get the horse under control, but I knew that would only make it worse. I knelt down to rearrange a few things in my pack and stayed there until the horse settled down and they were on their way. When I stood to put on my pack a little boy pointed at me and said, “I bet he makes babies cry and wet themselves.” I didn’t know what to say so I just turned and headed down the trail.”
When I returned to the table after throwing away the trash he had wandered off. I waited for a few minutes for him to return and then headed to my car. I was surprised to see a manila envelope stuck under my windshield wiper. There was no one nearby when I opened it and an intricate origami horse fell out. The message scribbled on its side read, “Babies really love me.”