Last week, I had decided it was time to push my walking to a higher level. I was feeling a bit lethargic from staying inside due to the weather and I do have ambitions to double last year's weight-loss total. But me, being me, I waited several days to see if the feeling would pass.
Then, yesterday morning, in the throws of a monumental three day funk, I decided it was time to dive in. I chose a destination twice as far as I usually go and in a different direction and set off.
Given that I was taking a new route, there were lots of interesting things to look at and mull over. The first thing I found myself noticing was moss. This was a bit unusual for me. Not because moss is unusual, quite to the contrary. I don't know if Oregon is the moss capital of the world, but it is certainly in the running. So, for the most part, I just don't pay any attention to it because it is literally everywhere. But this time, I noticed and was a bit amazed at the variety. There is the bubbly sort that sits along the edges of the sidewalks. There is the feathery stuff that mixes in with the grass. There are the cascades of green that fall over the edges of stone walls. And there is interesting gray green stuff that randomly drops out of the trees in clumps. I could have continued making mossy observations, but there were other things to notice, both externally and internally.
I looked at the houses that I passed and noticed hints of the owners' personalities in the landscaping and exteriors. Some still had their Christmas lights up, but one had a couple of Valentine hearts surrounded by lights in the window. And, given that I've not been an external decorator, I wondered what that might say about the person hanging it, if anything. I noticed the various color schemes on the houses, mostly nondescript, but others quite horrendous. Robin's egg blue on stucco really doesn't speak to me. And, due to personal issues that I'm not going into here, I will never think that bright pink on a house is a good idea. Perhaps in climates with bright sunlight and heat, it might work. But here in the Pacific Northwest and it's blue-ish light, it is a bad, bad idea.
And what is with the lawn art? Cherubs pouring water into birdbaths not once, but twice, in the same small yard. Interesting little mosaic tiles plopped down in the middle of nowhere also made me wonder at their purpose. Lots of dilapidated and long abandoned benches hidden beneath rhododendrons that grew over them long years past.
As I waited for a crosswalk signal at a busy intersection, I watched the drivers barreling past me and wondered a bit about them. If their expressions were any indication, many of them seemed to be either angry or sad. And this made me wonder about the state in which most of us move through our days. Were they off on a distasteful errand? Or were they unable to put some earlier event behind them? Or had the years worn them down until they had forgotten how to smile? I don't know, but I found myself paying attention to my own expression as I walked on.
By this time, I had walked farther than I had before and was starting to feel the effects. The things I noticed became more sporadic as I slowed down a bit to accommodate my complaining feet and lungs. But I still noticed the thoughts that popped up.
I noticed that there are some very ugly and very expensive items in shop windows, and that sometimes they are the same things.
I noticed a pair of goldfinches chasing each other across the sky in search of the bird equivalent of romance.
I noticed that young people don't want to acknowledge you when they pass on the sidewalk, but that anyone over 40 will say hello.
I wondered how there could be so many people in all those houses and I not know any of them. Then I wondered at the miracle that I know the ones that I do.
I noticed that walking in 30 degree temperatures will make your eyes water and nose run no matter what. And that, if one is disposed to have one's eyes watering or nose running, it is a good cover to be able to blame the cold.
I noticed that walking by a bakery and smelling the aroma is probably a temptation straight from the devil.
I walked past a hedge and heard dozens of small birds chirping from within it and I wondered if they had lost their calendars and didn't realize it was still winter.
I noticed that I wished there were someone to walk beside me on my treks and, perhaps, hold my hand.
I noticed that when the fog lifted and the sun came out, everything looked different, even the moss on the way back home.
I noticed that the last 4 blocks back home are the easiest part of the walk.
I noticed that it always feels good to take off my shoes.
I noticed that I want to go noticing again soon.
Teacher Voices: Kate Bartlett - This is a continuation of my series of interviews with former students who are now teachers. The interview on this page features Kate Bartlett, a teacher ...
2 days ago