In the summer of 2013, Erlinda and I took a train from Hammond, Louisiana to Red Wing, Minnesota for her to attend a yoga workshop. I brought my folding bicycle so I could ride while Erlinda was in class.
We arrived in Red Wing at night and walked to the historic hotel where we would stay. The next morning, Erlinda walked to class and I took off on my bicycle to explore the town and surrounding area.
I rode to Memorial Park on the bluff overlooking Red Wing. The winding, forested road to the park climbed so steeply that I had to dismount and push my bike to the summit. Once there, I rode on biking paths through deep woods and meadows of waving yellow grass.
I sat down in the woods to eat a snack. The ground was damp, and I used my floppy Tilley hat as a cushion. When I left my picnic spot, I accidentally left the hat.
The next day, I rode back to the park to find it. I retraced my route and found what I thought was the spot where I ate. No hat. I gave up looking and made the steep descent to the highway.
I needed a hat for the rest of my stay and bought a ballcap at a sporting goods store. I dislike ballcaps because they are never large enough for my long oval head, but I had no choice.
We flew home from Minneapolis, and I forgot about my lost hat. Meanwhile, in Red Wing that winter, freezing rain and heavy snow fell in Memorial Park. By spring, fungi, insects, and other organisms had decayed the fallen leaves and branches on the forest floor.
At home in Louisiana that summer, I received an email from a woman in Red Wing. She said she coached a running team that practiced on the bluff, and that one of her girls had found a hat with my name and address inside. I offered to pay postage for mailing me the hat, but the woman suggested I donate to her nonprofit, Girls on the Run, instead.
The woman mailed me the hat, and I wore it until a hole appeared above the brim in front, the result of wearing a round hat on a long oval head.