Sunday, June 23, 2019

Mindful Walking Post 3: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

My neighborhood is small-ish (forty houses, two streets, two cul de sacs). I’ve lived in it for almost thirty years, plenty of time to become familiar with the houses and the terrain. Usually when I walk here, it is with the singular intent to exercise, to reach my goal of daily steps. I might occasionally stop to talk with a neighbor, but I seldom take the time to notice or appreciate the surroundings. However, one of the challenges Bonnie Smith Whitehouse presents in  Afoot and Lighthearted is to walk in your own neighborhood and see it as a tourist or newcomer might--to make discoveries in a place you thought you knew. Yesterday, with that thought in mind, I set out.

You might’ve seen the Facebook meme that suggests Oklahoma change its name to “Ark”lahoma. All spring and into summer Oklahomans have experienced torrential downpours of earth-altering, damn-breaching proportions. Since a creek winds behind my neighborhood and empties into a commons area, I figured much of what I’d "discover" yesterday would revolve around changes the recent rains have brought—erosion, uprooted trees, deposits of new dirt. But while there was some of that, there were also some very pleasant discoveries.

Okies are a tough, determined lot, and my neighbors are no exception. We don’t live in a gated community of McMansions or on manicured acreage. But we do take pride in our homes and in the small amount of ground we’ve been allotted. We work hard to make our space attractive for ourselves and for others. To my delight yesterday, I found that in between the recent deluges, my neighbors have continued to work in their yards and on their houses and have produced lush little gardens and photo-worthy vignettes. 

During my walk, I found ... 

 beds of brightly colored flowers and lush greenery ...

welcoming oases for birds (which abound) ...

and cheerful spots for humans to "sit a spell."

I’ve always thought we have a pretty neighborhood, but until I  took the time to notice, I never fully appreciated it. I think if I really were looking through the eyes of a newcomer, I would see it as a lovely and pleasant place to live.

"...explore the neighborhood, view the at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down."
                                          -Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

My challenge is that you take Whitehouse's advice: Stroll through your neighborhood and see it for the first time!