Guest post by: Adria Nemeroff, in memory of Peter Falkowski
I decided that today was the day I would venture far into the wooded trails and up to the pass through the field, where Peter and I loved to be as the sun was setting last season. It would be the farthest I ever went into those woods alone, and I was nervous. I put Peter’s black bandanna with the roses on it over my ponytail, threw a water and my phone into Peter’s Pack, and off I rode to the state park.
It was so different to find my way without Peter, always the fearless leader, who joked about being lost but in my recollection never really was. I remembered with a smile how, given two paths in the wood, he would likely choose the steep incline or the path with a warning sign that conditions may be treacherous. He called those “technical sections”, and he enjoyed whatever near mishap might ensue. He was looking for adventure, a good story, a use for his self-proclaimed “catlike reflexes.” And I had enjoyed it all along with him.
Today, I did take the steeper path each time, but steered clear of the treacherous trail. Peter used to joke that every steep incline was the last one, until we would come to just one more. He was always challenging limits and I really missed him setting the pace, because I felt like I was a little bit slower and sadder without him. I told him he was my personal trainer because he really made sure it was a good workout. I will have to push myself now, to go farther and faster, as if he were still beside me.
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As I walked, I realized that I did keep looking next to me, where Peter had trod so many times, especially when I was crossing the high field. I kept looking up at the pale clouds against blue sky and then back to where he should have been. I marveled that I was there at all, usually choosing the role of hermit every time over any outing at all on my own. Maybe that is how Peter changed my life. He would end the workday before me, sometimes by hours, and have adventures before I even logged offline.
Peter was an example to me of fearlessly getting out and living, even if you were on your own. He always chatted politely with strangers and made conversation easily, a talent I admired. On the trail, he said hello to everyone, and today I tried to do the same. I looked people in the eye and hoped for the best. I was also happy that today every single dog on the trail stayed at a safe distance, which in my mind spelled success.
On the way back through the low path, I saw a break in the fence that must have happened since I was there with Peter. In the winter he had easily stepped right over the two-railed wooden fence that separated the path from the stream, and he encouraged me to do the same. I clearly could not step over the fence as he had, and so I remained on the trail while he took beautiful pictures at the water’s edge. Today, I stepped over the break in the fence to see for myself. It was worth the detour. Peter always knew the secret scenic spots, naturally.
I soon was making my way out of the woods again, and I was thrilled to have been to the field I had so enjoyed hiking through the winter. I felt a sense of accomplishment that I had gone out and done this simple act on my own. There will be so many more of those moments, doing things we enjoyed together, now in solitude. And I am capable of it, and willing to try.
Peter, I carry you in my heart and wish you peace.
PS – I love you.
|About the author: Adria Nemeroff is a CPA currently residing near Allentown, PA. She began the Peter’s Pack series as a tribute to her departed companion and hiking partner Peter John Falkowski, who’s enthusiasm for the scenic outdoors and artistic talents for photographing landscapes inspired her to keep going outside. Peter’s Pack will now roam on adventures both familiar and new in loving memory of him.|