Shelby Farms Park covers over 4,500 acres in Memphis, Tennessee making it one of the largest urban parks in the United States. The land has hosted everything from a commune in the 1800s to a penal farm. For fifteen years I have run the roads, trails, woods, and wetlands in baking heat and bitter cold. The stories, rare photos, and never-before-seen videos are mine. You do not need to believe what I am about to tell you, you only need know that I was there.
Winter: Deep in the Muddy Woods Somewhere on the Blue/White Trail
Sometimes your vision gets narrowed after so many miles. The pounding on your feet as you stutter-step through the rutted trails and around the tree falls takes a toll on your lungs which slows the mind. I was eight miles into my run on a bleak, gray day. Being a lover of the sun I hate running on overcast days. I love Memphis because even in Winter you sometimes get beautiful blue-sky days even in the depths of the blah season.
I knew that I had less than two miles to go to find my car and end the misery of a long, mud-caked run on a blah day. I had just passed through the Mile Meadow (Note to my dear readers: the names of special landmarks are not on any map, they were either passed down to me by the Old Ones or I just made them up to humor myself) and was ready to be done with slogging through the mud. As I reentered the woods I stopped in my tracks . . . speechless . . . stunned . . . in a state of wonderment.
A Vision of a Woman in a White Wedding Dress
There she was, a Woman in a White Wedding Dress deep in the woods. Like King Arthur coming upon the Lady of the Lake, I had no idea what was about to happen. Would the Woman in the White Wedding Dress wield the mighty sword Excaliber, would she offer me a Gatorade, who knew? Being a proper gentleman, I know you should always show respect to a lady, especially on her wedding day(?). However, my incomplete social training rendered me unable to think of a proper greeting upon such a noble occasion. What does one say to a Woodland Nymph when a chance encounter occurs? “Hi, you’re new here, aren’t you?” or how about, “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you here before?” or maybe, “Excuse me, but you appear to be wearing a wedding dress miles from anywhere deep in the muddy woods or am I mistaken?” Alas, my boorish past overtook me at such a moment and all I could think of was, “You look like a beautiful bride, may I take your picture?”
She said , “Yes!”
The Rest of the Story
Turns out this was a bridal photo shoot gone horribly wrong. The bride and her photographer were looking for a scenic overlook along the picturesque Wolf River for a sunset shoot. Taking the wrong trail they had become horribly lost. I gave them directions to the river and, seeing that they were determined to continue on their quest, bid them Adieu. I took a picture of the bride-to-be and her photographer since I knew no one back at the boring, mundane, real world would believe my chance encounter in the enchanted woods. I hope they found Camelot. Or at least made it back to the parking lot.
P.S. As they floated off through the woods the Woman in the White Wedding Dress turned back to me and said, “I bought the dress for $15 at Goodwill.” “Impressive,” I replied. I guess even the Enchanted are on a budget these days.