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VOL. 128 | NO. 77 | Friday, April 19, 2013

Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway

Understanding the Importance of a Getaway

By Dan Conaway

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THE TIME TO GET AWAY IS CLOSE. One morning last week. Anderson’s dogs were running, impossibly fast, circling a field of new wheat, impossibly green, and then through the woods and past the ponds, Snuffy bounding just ahead of us and Bow Wow off to our right in the trees. Their eyes were bright and their joy obvious, impossibly happy.

We were out in the country, the middle of nowhere yet right here, two old friends and a couple of dogs among old barns on a new morning, and we were having a business meeting. The work we did that morning would be emailed to Kansas City later that day, based on ideas we had generated on trails in the woods and in a farmhouse kitchen, far from all the hustle, bustle and buzzwords.

Yet just 45 minutes after I stepped from his big screen porch far below sheltering oaks, I stepped into a big conference room for another business meeting in a high rise far above Downtown. A getaway from it and a get back to it all before lunch.

One afternoon last week.

“That’s a red tail,” Michael said as the hawk took flight from the crook of a huge sycamore in the bend ahead, “I saw a flash of red.” We’d already seen flashes of white – the tails of deer on the south bank – and flashes of emerald green – the head of a mallard drake flying by and then ahead, wings a blur just above the water. We saw lots of mallards, drakes and hens paired for the spring, and kingfishers diving and vultures circling and trees budding. We saw teenagers camping, their hammocks strung between trees, suspended 12 feet above the current, and care suspended for the day.

We were on a river in a kayak, virtually alone in the middle of nowhere yet in the middle of a city, two old friends telling old jokes, paddling a river and finding a peace that only being on and around water brings, seeing the wild things water attracts. But for a rare glimpse of a building or utility pole through the trees’ winter skeletons, but for passage beneath a bridge or two, we saw no sign of the city we were floating through, heard none of its traffic and urban cough.

Yet just 30 minutes, and one beer, after pulling the kayak from the Wolf beneath the bridge at Walnut Grove and Humphreys, I was home. And what’s close to home is amazing.

Getting away from it all is all around us, and – if only for a morning in the woods or an afternoon on the water, or in a peaceful moment of reflection – we need but see it. It’s beneath those bridges we cross, over there in the trees we pass, in our growing awareness of green lines, green ways, and green futures.

If only for a little bit, we can get away from it right in the middle of it.

I’m a Memphian, and I know a nice little getaway or two.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

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