written by fiona
published on January 20, 2024
On Friday I ventured outside, as usual procrastinating until the final hour of daylight. There was no other point to the walk than the activity itself, so I didn’t bring a bag. I went the usual way — a left and then a right to the side entrance of Anita Berber park, then straight to the main path before making a diagonal across the snow-covered grass to visit the Long-eared (Cat) Owls who sleep in the same evergreen tree and are very easy to spot in winter. I found them both, little blobs from underneath, then continued towards Tempelhof.
There was a strong wind chill, so I put my hood up over my toque which I almost never do. I could see at least 2 big kite-surfing kites swooping around. The sky was mostly heavy grey, but there was a break in the clouds right where the sun was setting (maybe because the sun was burning a hole in them?) so I walked in that direction, crossing the field facing the dusty pinks and oranges, stopping at a couple of points to document the changing display.
I had more or less travelled in a straight line for about a kilometre, and once the sky had sufficiently dulled I turned heel and started to make my way back. Almost immediately I became aware of my footprints and realized that I’d never noticed the zigzag pattern on the sole of my boot before.
(Without looking, could you describe the pattern on the sole of your favourite pair of shoes?)
I thought it could be fun to try and step back only into the impressions I’d made on the way out — a game to make the now dark grey, return trip a little more fun by staying present and avoiding rumination.
Oh hey, it me.
It was easier than I expected to retrace my prints, Tempelhof is a massive space and even though it had been a few days since it last snowed there were still patches where no-one had stepped but me. As well, my stride was consistent (I had not done a silly walk on the way out) so I found my steps falling easily in line with those of my previous self.
There were moments when I would cross a more well-trodden icy path and temporarily lose my trail, but then would notice a partial print of just my heel or toe on the other side and fall back in line. I was surprised that I was able to follow my tracks almost all the way back until I crossed the main runway, which was icy and mostly impression-less.
As well as keeping my mind in the present, following my prints also slowed me down, prolonging the time outside when I might otherwise have hurried back as quickly as possible.
Noticing my own prints, I also became more aware of the prints of others – there are some wild patterns on the bottom of shoes! Another, more challenging, version of this game would be to pick someone-else’s impressions and try to follow those.
written by fiona
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