He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and esteem to our elderly. (At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad.)So lately I've been trying to do a better job of showing respect to my elders. And honestly, I know this lady wouldn't have called me as a first choice but somewhere pretty far down the line (I didn't even think she had my phone number.) She is one of the ladies I've been trying to walk with in the mornings, and before calling me she probably would have called all the rest of them who she knows better. So I think by calling me that was a sign that everyone else had already turned her down.
But more to the point, I didn't actually have any plans after my Bayyinah Tajweed Follow-Up Conference Call, so I said, "Sure, I'll go." After my tajweed class of course, though. And she called around 11:30am, the class was at 12, so we hooked up at the lake around 2:30. She wanted to take pictures of the mushrooms which had sprouted up the night before along their walking path. Unfortunately by the time we arrived, a lot of them had been knocked down and trampled on. She had anticipated that however, and warned me that we might be going "off the beaten path" to find the mushrooms. I thought that meant going in to the woods a little ways.
Well it turned out that the batteries in her camera were dead or dying right as we got started, so we didn't get very far before turning around and driving to a convenience store to replace them. So maybe it was around 3pm before we really got started. And she took pictures of all the interesting looking ones she could find--she looked on one side of the path while I kept my eyes peeled on the other.
I really had no idea there were so many varieties of mushroom. That could spring up over night. Around the same lake. There were some really bright yellow mushrooms, some white-stemmed mushrooms with a bright orange top that looked like an easter egg, some that looked like a prickly sort of snowball. If you just stop to look at them it's pretty amazing. There were some colonies of really tiny ones, some colonies of big ones, dark silver ones, red ones. A lot were just ordinary brown kinds, but it was kind of interesting. The ones in the picture are some really large white ones that were beside the road actually.
So we kept going along the path we walk in the mornings, I let her tell me about the different kinds of mushrooms and things going on in her building. She talked to me about growing up in the mountains and games she used to play with her brothers. Eventually we came to this long bridge, which is usually where we stop walking when we come in the mornings. But she wanted to keep going--off the beaten path, you know?
And since we weren't going really all that fast, we were especially tired by that point--the only problem was that we didn't know for sure where the path led back to! But she wanted to try that way anyway and I wasn't going to argue. Oh, and the reason she wanted someone to come with her? Mostly for safety--in case she fell or something (we were in the woods) and nobody was around, and that she couldn't hear people coming up behind her all that well.
So we kept going, not knowing where, as the path now instead of being soft dirt (and mulch) was clay and rocks, and instead of being flat was now going up and down. We finally came to a sort of cross paths with two options--to go down a very steep hill where the path had been labeled that bicycles weren't allowed, or a wider path that was similar to where we had come from. There was also a map but it wasn't exactly clear on how to get us back to where we had parked, at the boathouse. So we took the path that seemed easier, only to run in to some people who had passed us while we were photographing mushrooms. Alhamdulillah--I don't know how much further we'd have gone down that route unless they had stopped us. They didn't know the way out either, but informed us that our current path was pretty much a dead end. So we went back and then were left with the option to take the steep path, which was pretty much unknown to us, or to turn back and take a couple of hills, then the flat, soft path we had taken in the first place.
I let her decide. Looking into the woods at that point did not encourage me to take that path, although another couple came by and assured us that this was the faster, shorter path. Maybe it was shorter... but it wasn't worth it! We were going up and down very steep hills, trekking over unearthed roots, rocks, down the trunk of a tree, and through a stream. Everytime we encountered somone (which was pretty rare, maybe happened 3 or 4 times), she would ask how much further it was. Not far, they said, not far. My companion was by then severly exhausted, thirsty, with very sore feet. (I felt about the same, by the way!) We finally came to the end of this path, to the street and another parking lot. It was not, however, the parking lot we had parked at, but it was simply another entrance (on the other side of the street) to the walking trail which circled another park of the lake. From that point, we had about another half mile (or maybe something less) to the boathouse, taking this walking trail (which was paved) to the bridge, and then the boathouse. It was about 6pm by the time we got to the boathouse, eagerly stepping up to the water fountain!
So yes, it took three hours of walking--the last two hours of which were intense, navigating through hills and trees and such. But alhamdulillah we made it, neither of us passed out, although sitting down in my car felt almost euphoric.
All for some mushrooms! Most of which had been tramped anyway. And we did find some interesting ones on the second part of the path, in the woods, although we weren't really looking for them then, and only the bigger ones stood out. I wonder now how many smaller interesting ones we might have overlooked, just trying to get out of there. But I think she got some nice pictures. I only took the one so I could blog about it if I chose.
So in the end, was it worth it? I think about it this way:
If a young man honors an elderly on account of his age, Allah appoints someone to honor him in his old age. (At-Tirmidhi)