Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Observing routine

The labyrinth on Bowen Island.
Richard lived in our neighborhood for 13 years.  He was a walker, out early most days, swinging a stick in his right hand and flipping it with ease, which seemed to ensure his hands were busy, or at least one of them.  But more memorable than his trademark stick were his keen observations.  Anything out of the ordinary caught his eye and he was driven to follow through with some sort of investigation.

I share some of Richard's quirks, but I also take comfort in the steadiness of the familiar: the predictability of my neighbors and the habits that rule their lives.  Take the Peppers.  Once again, they have their beloved Duke Blue Devils flag flying today, now that the NCAA basketball season is approaching tournament stage.  Paul and Than have just uncovered their exotic trees from Vietnam, apparently confident the temps are on the rise from this point forward.  Sock has been whacking golf balls each evening into a backyard tee and net contraption; the green-thumbed gardeners, Mike and Les, have resumed digging on Sundays accompanied by NPR programming.

What might they say about us?  Forever walking their dogs in any and all weather; heading up the street at 0430 for the pool before work; recipients of massive amounts of wood chips each spring to do God knows what with.  Are there kindnesses involved?  Gratitude for civility?  Compassion for the private losses and misfortunes lived out behind closed doors?

Walking is a window for Richard and me.  It's a physical act of head clearing, a time for connecting the dots, formulating questions, and, if we're lucky, accessing joy.  Through the seasons.  Predictably!  

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