Thursday, July 17, 2008

"I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude."

I took another walk this morning. I meant to get up closer to 8 to take advantage of the cooler weather, as it's been 94 or so in the middle of the day lately, but I woke up a few minutes before the alarm would sound and turned it off, sleeping til 9 when Matt got up for work. Once he was gone, I got up and dressed, taking my shawl because it looked cloudy out. I was glad to have it for the first half of the walk, but simply carried it on the way home since the sun had come out and it was getting warmer even in the shade.

I have found my Route, I think. The street I live on curves off from a very lovely street lined with early 20th-century (or older? I don't know architecture) houses with beautiful lawns and gardens and many huge, ancient trees. I love walking and driving down it and admiring the flowers and vines, the detail on the shutters, the pattern of the shingles. But about halfway down, there are only little houses from the 1960s with ill-kept yards and shabby fences, as well as a middle school, a dentist's office, and that sort of thing. But today I decided to turn down a side street and see where it went, and I'm so glad I did! More old houses, but some newer ones, too, and most were fairly large. Clearly these people have money. Every lawn was mowed and watered to verdant perfection, every driveway clear of oil spots, every window shining and clear. I would've taken almost any one of those houses in an instant if I could. There were a few retirees working in the garden, and a couple of hired "lawn and garden" workers trimming and mowing. The street curved around from the main street in a sort of wobbly teardrop shape, so I ended up nearly where I went in, and walked back up home.

I could describe the whole walk in smells. The scent of some sort of dark berry mingled with the droppings of the birds who ate them was among the first as I exited my street. I love that huge house at the corner, with a treehouse tucked into a giant tree at the rear of the back yard, and vines growing up over sandstone brick. Dust was in the air from nearby construction, but as I continued down that first street, I smelled wet grass, a hint of flowers, and the occasional whiff of a garbage can left at the edge of the sidewalk for pickup this morning. Down the teardrop-shaped street there was the scent of freshly-mown grass, and mud, and warmth. I think in summer, warmth has a smell.

Or I could paint the experience in sounds. Birds chirping chattily, having been awake for hours and finished their "good morning" songs. The burbling rush of water through little side ditches, and the rush of it beneath rusted metal grates. A weedwhacker in the distance, the hum of pumps cleverly hidden behind cute little fences, the kshhhhhhhhhhhhh of sprinklers belonging to people who could afford all the water they gushed into this desert climate.

I could describe it all in sensations. The tickle of shawl fringe on my arms and the swish of my long skirt around my calves. The bite of a pebble in my shoe, and the consequent relief as I slipped my foot out, flipped my ballet flat over with my toes, and slid my foot back in. Water drops on the leaves of a lush vine hanging over a retaning wall, cool on my fingers as I skimmed my hand over it. It was probably from sprinklers earlier in the morning, but I pretended it was dew. The brush of low tree branches on my face and shoulders as I ducked to pass them on the sidewalk.

Usually I bring my ipod with me on walks, but I left it at home this morning and was able to enjoy everything that much more. Without humming or even singing along to the Enchanted soundtrack, some Michael Buble, or even OK Go, I could experience the walk with all my senses, and think about what I was seeing and hearing and smelling and feeling. Hence, this blog post! I have tomorrow off work, too; maybe I'll go on another walk in the morning. I should take my camera, too! I love blogs with pictures, I'm just not a photographer. But practice makes perfect, right?

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