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Small Tokens

Two weekends ago my husband and I went on a short, local backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. The first day we had 13 miles ahead of us with heavy packs on our backs. There were unexpected snow flurries and a leaking water bottle within the first ten minutes.

Inauspicious signs.

However, once we were half up the first hill, we came across a young couple coming the other way. These young-ins were not burdened with packs, reeked of pot, and encouraged us as we huffed and puffed past them. After a brief chat, the man offered to take our picture with his trendy mini Polaroid camera. We said sure and after a smile and click, he handed the underdeveloped print to us. The picture, he said, was ours to keep. Then they continued southbound and we continued northbound.

Sliding the photo into my pocket, I checked it every few minutes. He said we didn't have to shake it like the Polaroids of ye olde tymes. After about fifteen minutes, an image emerged. It was black and white, over-exposed, and a tad blurry, but oh the atmosphere. There we were, dressed for cooler weather, with bare trees behind us, hanging jauntily onto our trekking poles.

Most importantly, we are smiling.

Somehow I managed to not lose or damage this small memento during our three days on trail. (Carrying a 700 page paperback to read at night helped safeguard the photo but, yes, also bulked up my pack. Don't start with me.) Now it's on the fridge, treasured. A small, thoughtful, random token from a stranger in the woods. That's definitely something to keep in the curio cabinet.

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