Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Walk in the Neighborhood

I took a walk today. 
Now that’s probably not a big thing. You go outside and walk all the time, and that’s as it should be, but since I broke my back five years ago, walking is a major undertaking for me. Not a call for sympathy, please. I’m fine!
But today, I walked. It wasn’t a long walk, or a dynamic one, but you have to start somewhere, right? And so I did. 
I walked my husband to his workplace. It’s only 500 yards from our house, but going there and back adds up to a 1000 yards, and that’s a hefty stretch for me. Half a mile. Wow. I walked half a mile. That’s still less than the endless hike my friend Bunny and I did in the Luray Caverns in Virginia. I thought I was going to die that day, but in the end, when we got back, I didn't expire, I just puked.

Anyway, today’s a lovely fall day, perfect for a walk in the neighborhood. The sun is shining with that special mellow October golden light. Most of the trees still have their leaves, and many are still green. There were a lot of acorns underfoot though. There’s this old wives’ tale that the winter will be hard if there are a lot of acorns and chestnuts in fall. Didn’t see any chestnuts–mostly because there are no chestnut trees in the neighborhood–but a lot of acorns, and those little triangular thingies that grow on beech trees. 

I found these beauties hidden under a beech hedge: 





There were quite a few of them, but there were no fairy folk to be seen. Maybe they don’t come out in bright daylight? Who knows!

This huge old oak tree has always been one of my favorite trees in the neighborhood. I often wonder how old it is, and I’m glad that we have tree protection laws that would put a person in jail if they dared to cut this giant down. There are two old beech trees farther down the street; I’ll take a photo of them next time!





Aren’t trees pure magic? I think they are. Haughty and tall they stand through every kind of weather and every season. They stand witness to the life bustling around them; listening to the chatter and song of birds nesting in their boughs. They endure the woodpecker’s need to burrow his nut stash in their rinds, they don’t even shy away when a dog needs their trunks to mark his territory. They offer shelter to the desperate cat fleeing from one of those dogs, and they patiently stand still when intrepid children climb up into their branches.

I saw a cow. 

This cow: 





And I peeked into this beautiful front yard:





I’m amazed by people who enjoy gardening. I think it must be a talent that they’re born with, because I know that I suck at it, totally. We have a small backyard of our own, but it’s more of a wildflower/butterfly/anything-wild-and-grow-as-you-like yard than anything else. The cats love it, and so do the dragonflies. And bees.

It’s the small things that matter. It’s the observation of those small things that make the difference. 
I’ve always maintained–and I know I’ not alone in believing this–that a keen sense of observation is one of the skills that make a writer. There are so many stories out there, and all you have to do is see them. 

Look at this: 





Do you see the story? I do! I see an entire novel here. 
Who put that gull in that exact spot? Who chose to plant those kinds of grass around it? Where did he/she find that gull, and why? Do they live in that house behind this front yard or have they moved on? Were they happy people, alone, grieving? Do they have children?
Or that cow from earlier? Who painted it, who put it there? 
The world around us sings to us. All we have to do is to be still, and listen.
And there’s the novel you always wanted to write.