It occurred to me when the woman passed me — for the second time — as I ambled along the walking trail at George Washington Carver National Monument that perhaps I should step up the pace of my amble.
The only problem is, the walking trail at the monument isn’t a place that necessarily inspires a stepped-up amble.
To me, the Carver monument is a place to linger. It’s a place to take in sights that you otherwise might let pass by. The Carver monument is a place to study and observe.
But mainly, the Carver monument is a place to think. You don’t have to think deep thoughts; you just have to think. And to be honest, you don’t have to think the whole time you’re at the Carver monument. Sometimes it’s sort of nice to sit on a bench along the trail and just veg out for a few minutes.
I got to the monument just before 1 p.m. on Wednesday. As I walked through the parking lot, I saw three school buses. Two of them were from Miami, Okla., and the other was from Frontenac, Kan.
Later, Curtis Gregory, who works at the monument, would tell me that the site is booked with school field trips every day through the end of May.
I like that. Every kid in the area should get to spend at least one day at George Washington Carver National Monument.
I left the parking lot and walked off to the right where the Carver walking trail begins. It was a good day for an amble. The sun was out, the clouds were few and there was a slight, comfortable breeze. Not all the trees have their leaves yet, but there is enough green to make you feel that spring has finally arrived.
I set out walking along the trail, stopping every so often to read one of the informational signs that are scattered throughout the trail. I stopped by the creek and tried to imagine a young George Washington Carver hauling water or simply exploring the plant and animal life in and around the spring.
About halfway through my walk, I came upon the Carver home. I walked into the small building and read about its history. Then, I walked out of the cabin, through the backyard and got back on the trail. It was about that time that the woman who had first passed me toward the beginning of the trail passed me again.
“Looks like you lapped me,” I said.
The woman laughed and kept walking, perhaps to get away from me. I don’t know.
As I came out of the wooded area of the trail, I stopped inside the Carver family cemetery. I was shocked to discover that Moses Carver, who took in a young George Washington Carver and his brother Jim, lived to be 98 years old.
Curtis would later tell me that Moses was a “tough old man.”
I stopped to chat with Curtis about the Art in the Park and National Junior Ranger Day, which is this Saturday at the monument.
The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is free and open to the public. Artists from around the area will be on hand throughout the park working, demonstrating or showing their art. At 11 a.m., Cheryl Harness will talk about the book “The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science and Invention in America,” which she wrote and illustrated. There will be plenty of hands-on art workshops for kids and a chance for them to learn how to earn Junior Ranger badges.
For more information, call 417-325-4151 or visit www.nps.gov/gwca.
Oh, and if you decide to walk through park any time soon, do yourself a favor and take your time.
DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.