I’ve lived in St. Johns for four years and not until today did I hop the bus up North Lombard to take a walk through Pier Park, something I’d thought about before but never quite managed. Typically, should a day arise where my available physical and psychological resources are sufficient to deviate from my routine, I invest them in heading all the way across town to visit Oregon Zoo.

(The zoo, however, isn’t open for the three middle days of the week during the winter, so even with the weather holding pleasantly enough, that wasn’t an option.)

Despite it being the middle of the week, I have to say I was surprised to discover that the skatepark I didn’t even know about before now was not at all in use. Surely my neighborhood must have truant or unschooled teens in need of a skatepark? Most people I saw during my walk either were playing frisbee golf (there were at least three different groups) or simply walking themselves or their dogs.

Something I discovered early was that depending on the route you take, there’s a fair amount of uphill and downhill, for which I wasn’t really prepared. Starting at the west end and moving east, I stayed more or less to the level, middling pathways. Weirdly, the park felt smaller to me than I thought it would from looking at aerials, but that might be because I didn’t linger anywhere overly much; I needed to conserve enough energy to get myself home again, which counterintuitively meant I needed to keep moving, maintaining momentum.

I did stop, briefly, to take a few swings on the swing set that sits at the edge of a clearing. Newly-discovered fact: the tension flutters you feel in your chest when swinging are similar enough to what I call “anxiety chest” that I needed deliberately and consciously to tell myself that I was not having an anxiety attack.

This sort of initial reconnaissance, for lack of a better term, gave me a pretty clear sense of my options for future walks there, or finding places just to go sit among the trees, which suddenly today I discovered very much is a thing I can do—and conveniently, no less—in my own neighborhood.