‘Twas the season… earlier, yet again. Sarrah and I enjoyed another ‘ever encroaching’ season for our evening walks to be lit by the sporadic houses participating in multi-colored Christmas accents. Though I do not adorn my house with lights, I do make an effort to appreciate the works of those who do, Even if they insist on doing this further into November. This year the lights seemed more special, so we varied our route and changed things up a bit to see and experience a little more. Much like a movie, on our quiet evening walks my mind took me back through many of Christmas seasons of the past, most bright and delightful, some a little less, but all memories worth having. I typically have more of a seasonal chaos and yearend stress induced ‘Bah, Humbug’ attitude around this time of year. Even after the excess commercial nonsense and profiteering junk is scraped off, Christmas is still a bittersweet holiday for me.
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Walking vs. Working
I believed that by taking a break midday I would just have to add that time onto the end of my workday. I was wrong. This break away actually recharged my brain with fresh air and made the rest of the day more productive, noticeably better. Time out in the sun removed the distraction of it through glass, much like being out in wet weather restores appreciation for indoor work. Regardless of the weather, getting outside to walk a mile loosened my back and made an improvement to my workday. Our typical midday walk evolved into including a long stretch of the road aptly named, Marine View Drive. This million-dollar view makes for a great walk with a glimpse of the Olympic Mountains, behind the Vashon and Bainbridge Islands across the Puget Sound.
Along the route we discovered a few older wind damaged trees from where eagles like to watch the world and nest, one even cried for us one day. In eagle speak, it was probably yelling at us. Sarrah just looked up at it for a moment, and then went back to sniffing. I had never noticed these majestic birds, living within a quarter mile of me, before we started walking this road. For many of my workdays, our walk simply became the best part. When my dad retired he would join us, typically on Tuesdays. We would walk and then go to lunch. I knew it and thought about it often, that these days would become fond memories.
Sarrah delighted in all aspects of going to the Peninsula. She usually sat up and looked out the windows the entire way there, to watch the world as it went on by. The journey from where we live starts with on average an hour of ‘freeway hell’, racing with the self absorbed rats on the paved necessary ugliness, known as Interstate 5. Then off onto Highway 101 where it gradually devolves from too much civilization and overpopulation into a sort of peaceful time travel back through the woods and near a few old small towns, too tough to die. This leg of the journey is packed with many little things that busy people miss or find “boring”. These things like mountains, forested land, rivers, cattle, wildlife; deer, coyotes, porcupines, elk, eagles, hawks and even bears were all noticed and points of interest mentally noted by my road wise companion.
Familiarity joined us as we learned and remembered the details of the road. Sarrah began to recognize the Montesano exit, about a third of the way there and would start with howls and growls, eventually twirling in place with delight. This spot marked the end of four-lane travel and the start of rural highways complete with the lost in time feel; proof and promise of adventure!
Walking through the streets of my forty-plus year old working-class suburban neighborhood with Sarrah, where I had lived for around eight years, I started to notice and discover things. The little stuff missed when driving on autopilot, getting from home to wherever and back, even those details that I had somehow missed when just out for a leisurely drive.
Like watching the ‘big hair’ artist Bob Ross on television go at it with a canvas; the brilliant colors, smells and sounds all quickly join in to complete the picture. With repetition and varied routes we viewed houses, landscapes, people and how they live in different kinds of light. Sarrah’s frequent pausing to bark at shut-in dogs, sniff shrubs and investigate everything worthy created endless opportunities to look around. As new discoveries were added into the mix, smaller details were exposed. A daily dose gives an observer some sense of goings on; projects, maintenance and all changes are easily noticed. I enjoy seeing pride of possession, on any scale.
I have always noticed the houses with architectural flair, typically those older ones with added attention to detail, built when priorities were different. By walking I discovered even more. In particular, landscaping; how it is designed, maintained and evolves has always been an eye catcher for me, but actually walking right beside it and in some cases through it via public sidewalks, paints the picture more clearly. I like to see timeless balance within a property, an organic harmony between the land and its buildings. This varied equilibrium is hard to achieve and almost impossible for me to describe with a handful of words, but I think that you know it when you see it.
Down the street four houses resides an old decrepit evergreen tree on the corner. This poor tree is in a crappy location and does its part to let everyone know that it is unhappy. It grew crooked on this sloped lot and has always looked sickly. To show its unhappiness it constantly drops needles and cones to plug the run-off street drain underneath so that when we get significant rainfall, the street floods. Sarrah only noticed one thing… the Cones! She loved the scratching hollow noise that they made as they skipped across the blacktop, when I kicked them. She would excitedly attack, catch and carry the cone of the day along with us (sometimes two at a time). Eventually she would drop it indiscriminately; some were deposited as little as ten feet away, most others much farther, the furthest made the whole mile plus round trip. She should receive honorable mention on Arbor Day, for if ten percent of her randomly relocated cones yielded a tree; she planted around four hundred along Marine View Drive.
Being a “car guy” makes my eyes always shoot toward an open garage door. With a tinge of voyeurism I look to catch a glimpse of a beauty sleeping under cover, curvaceous antique, sleek vintage hot rod, stripped down racer, badass muscle car, smooth exotic sports car, dangerous motorcycle of any kind, sparkle of chrome or “gearhead” project in the works… But alas, usually I only get an eyeful of something you don’t want to see, Junk (but I look anyway). There are occasionally a few buried treasures infinitely waiting under the dust and boxes of life’s souvenirs, but most garages sadly are simply full of stuff, piled high with things that people lazily save. Although a few garages are actually used for a daily driver, the household workhorse vehicle, many have become storage units. Some garages are methodically organized dens dedicated to other passions like woodworking, music, gaming, or even turned into pseudo pubs and tiki bars, and a few into gyms. The worst are converted into living quarters, never to be open again. The best are an Asylum, from the rest of the world.