A Walk in Winter.

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A Walk …

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It doesn’t feel cold, though of course it is. I am dressed appropriately. The sun sparkles, happy to see me; there are so few people for it to shine upon outside in this cold. It sparkles on the snow, here and there glittering the grey winter landscape.

At first I choose each step with care, not knowing how slippery the sidewalks may be, then I pick up speed and get up to a hearty jaunt. I try for some cardio so I need to walk at a good fast clip. The cars on the street seem slow, my pace apace with them as they slow for the traffic light.

I cross and head up the hill, past friends’ homes with their well-tended gardens now all withered and snow encrusted. Still, the textures are beautiful: sinewy vines twined on fences of wood and wrought iron with dried grey-brown leaves waving here and there, straight smooth stalks and dried blossoms of hydrangea thrust out of snow, red-hued bayberry all a-prickle. The holly leaves are still deep green and shiny, and periwinkle peeks out from pauses in the snow, ready for Spring anytime.

The first human I meet is familiar, as is his fox-terrier/rotweiler doggie. To myself I smile at the abbreviations that pop into my head: Foxrot (FoxtRot?), Ferrier, Fairweil, Ferrot. I smile and say hello as usual and he does the same. He is younger than I am, most likely, but I look young. (This is not the same as looking stunning, unfortunately). My sister thinks I am aging backwards–does that even make sense? We know what she means– but doesn’t it stand to reason that someone removed from stressful and difficult times and having instead: rest and relaxation, healthy food, fresh air and exercise, might look a tich better? Of course. Stress and sleeplessness alone are aging, it seems to me.

In the chill air it is easy to feel invigorated and able to walk forever. This feeling lasts precisely until the frigid air begins to chill nose, cheeks, then fingers and toes. It is then that one realizes: I have to walk all the way back home!

I am wearing layers of clothing as well as a beautiful hand-knit scarf, boots, a hat, and warm gloves, but the temperature is quite low and the breeze adds a windchill. I duck into a coffee shop for a few minutes of warmth.

I have never been a coffee drinker. More’s the pity, now that coffee is said to have curative or preventative powers. I drink tea. It is the token bit of English in me, perhaps, plus tea lends itself to my creativity. I add fresh herbs, lemon, spices such as ginger, cloves, cinnamon of course, tumeric because it is supposed to ward off some effects of aging (though I don’t like the taste much) and even cumin, which I like very much. It is one of my current fads, along with kale (as in sauteed ’til crisp in olive oil and seasoned, or in a stirfry with fresh ginger and a dash of tamari), and also leeks. Leeks are delicious in soups, this being soup weather as well as tea weather. I am good at soups for some reason and I like to have them on hand, they are so soothing.

After my green tea, I embark upon a different course home. The sun that had shone for me earlier is now on hiatus and the sky is winter-grey with thoughts of snow flurries. Down in front of me flutters… is it a stray snow flake? No, it is a small fluffy feather. So maybe it is actually down in front of me (ha, myself and I can be as punny as we wish when walking). The little feather floats from the sky, slowly this way and that in the bluster of the late afternoon. I see no little birdie. He must have been faster than his falling feather. Perhaps he is flying towards warmth somewhere.

Feathers always bring to mind my grandmother. She dressed well at all times and accessorized in mid-20th-century classic chic, at least so she now appears whenever she comes to mind. She wore hats, hence the feathers, and gloves, fitted suits, simple elegant pumps. Ash-blond hair perfectly coiffed. Lipstick always, and perfume. I used to love to stand at her dressing table as she chose her perfume. It wasn’t that she gave me a spritz of those French scents that most intrigued me, it was the collection of tiny but beautiful glass bottles with their elegant labels that caught my eye. She gave me one, once, when it was empty. Isn’t it strange the things that become our keepsakes?

I nearly keep the feather but in my head I hear my mother saying how germy bird feathers can be and it is flu season and I am careful, or too careful as the case may be. What has a bird feather to do with the flu? West Nile Virus? Is that active in the winter? Who knows.

In my mind, the white fluffy feather joins others on my grandma’s white hat. Feathers, fur… would she even wear those now? I think not. She’d wear other fashionable things, like my hat or my boots or my gloves. This is somehow a very satisfying thought: I have three pence of her fashion sense. However, less of that and I might now be slightly warmer. I might instead have chosen to wear my snow boots. Bulky, heavy. Good for trudging in the snow. I have those for when I am not on a city walk. Those make me think of the children’s book Owl Moon, if you know that story. Bundling, out in the woods, listening for owls under the moon. And mittens. I am wearing gloves not mittens. Mittens… doesn’t the word alone make you think of that wet-wool smell? I wear mittens when walking in the wilderness.

As I head back, I pass a young girl walking with her head down. She does not even look up as I pass and say hello. The cold must have frozen her ears, or she may be deep in thought. Young people are never the first to say hello, in my experience, but they are often the most enthusiastic in their replies, their smiles large and sincere. They are not yet jaded and are reassured by friendliness, or so is my theory. Sometimes older people are friendly too, don’t get me wrong. I try not to take the few compulsory and cool replies personally. How sad is that, to be unable to smile, or, worse, to choose not to smile at friendly passersby? Well you can think about this when next you are out walking. If you are in conversation with someone or on your cell phone, I will not disturb you, don’t worry, but otherwise I’ll likely greet you, so be nice!

A few tangents later and home again, home again, riggety jig. What is that from, anyway? Oh it’s jiggety jig. Mother Goose. To Market to Market… so there is your Random Trivia from my uneventful but refreshing winter walk.

Cheers to you! Stay warm and happy, wherever you may be this weekend!

~ Lily

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Phone a friend.

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Phone a Friend… 

(or: No Organic Red Potatoes Tonight)

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Find a friend

when dismal

is beginning to feel normal

walk

with friend

talk

because you need to do so

and likely so does she or he

and then

because you miss your social whirl and

sparkling dinners,

have dinner with your friend

and laugh,

laugh in the face of misery

say good-bye to lonely

smile to exercise all facial muscles

so there will be no atrophy

while your world realigns

as of course it will.

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The play of an autumn evening…

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Once upon an autumn evening

I walked to beat the darkness

seeming–

in breezes tousling,

streets shushed and still,

as dinnertime and bedtime

came and went and loomed–

paused

as the lingering sun

strove to outshine the moon,

playing hide and seek over rooftops

and dodging in the trees,

golden and warm in final moments–

Mother may I

remember these.

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The Flight from the Library (a true story).

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Today I walked to the library,

I hoped to find a chair,

so you might find me amidst the pages

of Love and Mystery there.

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The librarian leapt to be of assistance

When I requested books of poetry.

Tattooed on his forearm he pointed out

Byron, E. Browning, and Shelley.

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We talked of poets, their art, their lives

For well over half an hour,

A young man reading next to me laughed aloud,

The musician next to him did nothing but glower.

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Dickinson has a rhythm that’s easy to read,

Frost could go on forever.

Collins is sailing around the room,

Shakespeare these sonnets we never.

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On the way home I encountered

A  blue heron upon a yard wall,

Who only sat and stared at me,

He shouldn’t have been there at all.

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Like a poem that can travel anywhere,

A bird in my city backyard

Alights and smiles at me on my way,

So close, and yet so far.

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Contemplation, patience, successful hunt,

Symbol of adapting, like water.

Symbol of Wisdom, symbol of Light,

Watch the symbol

Taking flight.

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Can we try a little kindness, please? (updated*)

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OK, peeps, we can do better than this. This goes out to all the shopkeepers out there.

In this economy, do you want my business? Because, honestly, I am a kind person and I empathize with all sorts of people, but I don’t understand snooty preoccupied or can’t-be-bothered shopkeepers.

Sunny day, gorgeous day. I’m out walking, shopping bag slung over my shoulder. Granted, I’m wearing t-shirt and jeans, but you know, I have money to spend on those I love, and also I love supporting my local merchants. Some know me by name and I’ve only lived here several months.

I’m looking for a wedding present. I go into a local upscale housewear-type shoppe. The door is open, the air is fresh, I’m feeling fine and happy. I love walking, and I like shopping too, though I am a careful shopper.

I walk in, spot all sorts of things that are sweet, cool, fine. The shopkeeper says hello, then answers a phone call. I wait. I am patient. I look around, find things I am interested in. The shopkeeper –the owner, I would guess –talks to a friend, or maybe her sister.  She forgets I am there. I wait at the counter. She talks.  I walk around some more, am interested in several things. I wait. I stand. Finally I leave, kindly saying good-bye, wondering if I didn’t look important enough or monied enough, or maybe her chat was more important than my business or her business?

Ah well.

Now, for contrast:

Where I live, there are a lot of beggars. On my jaunts I often encounter, “Lady can you spare a dime five dollars?” Many people have told me to ignore “panhandlers”, but I usually keep a few one-dollar bills in my pocket and often I hand them over,  if the situation seems safe. Am I supporting someone’s drug habit, or giving them a meal? I dunno.

Anyway, I was walking home, in a hurry, and a familiar –entrepreneur–approached me. I say entrepreneur because this guy sells stuff. I’ve always had a soft spot for him because he doesn’t beg, he sells his wares. You know, he’s got pride.  I see him often, pass him by often, because his stuff is not cheap and I just don’t carry much cash nor do I need to buy things all of the time. But I am familiar to him just as he is familiar to me.

Years ago, when my kids were little, we were at an outdoor concert and The Entrepreneur approached us. Everyone around us seemed to be ignoring him. My kids were a bit apprehensive. “Mo-om!”  But I bought a necklace, and he was elated. So grateful, so polite, so happy.

I doubled the necklace and wore it as a bracelet. The black cord is a bit faded now, but it is beautiful, a raw gemstone. I called it then, and refer to it now as, my “kindness bracelet”.  So, imagine my surprise when I moved to a new place and now run into The Entrepreneur on a regular basis.

This evening, I have somewhere I have to be. I am hurrying by, and I am with someone else. The Entrepreneur approaches me. I say, “I know, I have to buy something from you one of these days, but not now. I don’t have cash and I have to go…”

“Do you like this?” he asks.

Wow. Yes, I do. I like the bracelet he shows me.

“You got five bucks?” he asks me.

“Well I can’t stop now. But I will, I …”

“It’s yours” he says. “Take it. I want you to have it.”

I am hurrying by, I can’t shop right now, I…

“Here.” He gives it to me.

I thank him. He knows I will get back to him. He knows.

So I am wearing this beautiful, delicate bracelet that he made. It’s black with three oblong white beads etched in black. I love it. It’s not too big or too much for my skinny little wrist, and I wear a lot of black especially as an accent colour, so it is perfect, in its unassuming artsy little way.

What is the moral of this story? Don’t know, really, but… be kind, be open to people, accept gifts. Live happily!

Enjoy your walks in this beautiful world. Enjoy the spring, and walk with a spring in your lovely step.

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*For More, taste this post from DM (who contributes in Comments, below).                       It is truly delicious and will make you smile!

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