A walk at Delta Lake, north of Rome, NY.

I walk alone into the forest on a crisp fall day. Under the canopy, the bright afternoon sun can't win against the chill. I marvel at the trees, so tall they make mine at home seem unfinished, by comparison. A blush of red, a tinge of yellow says that autumn is really here, and only six days after the calendar says so. Each step reminds me I'm in a different place: the earth, spongy and fecund gives beneath my tread and springs back. Decades of leaves, layer upon layer, transition gradually into soil below the surface.

As I walk, I get incredibly happy, just thrilled to have found this stolen hour to use as I please, in a faraway place on a Thursday afternoon, when I would otherwise be sitting at my desk. Seconds later, in an amazing turnabout, tears come to my eyes as I realize that I don't make time in my life alot of the time for what's important to me. This stroll in the woods, completely unplanned, is a gift of circumstance -- a gift to myself, and it's the best, most important part of the trip. Not the presentation. Not the meeting with the client.

After walking for 20 minutes or so, I come to the shore of the small lake. I burst forth eagerly into the sunshine, glad for the warmth, and notice it's mostly calm on this south-facing shore. A heron, disturbed by my eruption, leaves his post by the little bay. The shore is covered with rocks. Many are rounded. If these were loaves of bread, some of them have been sliced! Flat slices of roundish rocks, a centimeter or less thick, lie among their whole brothers and sisters. I select two as a memento.

When I get back to the car, I notice that they fit together. Perfectly.