Between Peace and Pollution
My lungs ache just a little as I step out of my office building and take a deep breath of city air. I hate working here in the dirty city, every street crammed with cars. There’s always a haze in the air, thanks to the factory three blocks away. I can’t even enjoy a walk on my lunch break, thanks to the construction crew tearing down an abandoned McDonald’s.
I’m glad it’s quitting time for the weekend. I can’t wait to get away from this place, and I’m even more excited to not come back for three days. As the rest of my coworkers head off to the parking garage, I grab my bicycle from the rack and head to the bus stop. It’s a half-hour ride to my stop, where I have a 20-minute bike ride. I wouldn’t take my commute any other way.
The bus drops me off at a dirt road on the edge of town. It’s not an actual stop, but the driver always stops anyway, when I’m on board. I take my bike from the rack and wait until the bus pulls away to take a deep breath, this time enjoying the clean air, safe from the city’s pollutants. With the sunshine on my back, I head down the dirt path, peddling hard enough to enjoy a breeze.
The trail ends at my house, an ancient farmhouse with nothing but forest behind it. I’ve explored every inch of those woods, and I head there now, following familiar trails under the canopy of dappled sunshine. Today I make my way to a small meadow among the woods, dappled with dandelions and a single, young weeping willow, which my father helped me plant when I was a young girl. This is my favorite place to come after a long work week. The air is the cleanest here, with so many plants to churn out fresh oxygen. More than that, when I’m sitting under the willow’s shade, I can forget the outside world even exists. Here is my balance between peace and pollution.