Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.
— from On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Tonight, the train arrived at my home Metro station at kind of an odd time because of delays due to track work. I’ve given up on taking the evening shuttle from the station to my apartment complex because it’s wildly inconsistent, and the bus wasn’t due to arrive for about 20 minutes. It’s about three miles or so from the station to my apartment, maybe a little more, and it was a nice evening – cool, but not cold, and breezy, a little possibility of showers. Today was kind of a casual day at work since my boss was out, so I had on sneaker-ish shoes and not fancy clothes, and I had an umbrella in my bag. It seemed everything was conspiring to allow me to walk home, which I’ve never done before. It seems like kind of a long way, and there are a fair amount of hills, and usually I just want to get home.
But it’s Friday, and I had no plans for the evening, and I needed to work out anyway, and I knew, since I haven’t worked out in more than a week (because I haven’t been well, though I’ve felt much better yesterday and today), that the chances were high I’d back out of going to the gym when I got home, so I thought, “Just do it. It’s an hour, and then your exercise is done. If you get tired, just stop and wait for the bus.”
So I did, and I feel really pleased. I reminded myself along the way to pay attention to the world around me, and here are some of the things I saw (forgive the quality – these are from my phone):
I love that some urban planner took the time to not only plant a “wildflower meadow” but to also post signs so that people walking by don’t just think it’s a bunch of weeds.
This football, laying in the street next to the curb, made me a little sad. I wondered about the person who lost it, and hoped it wasn’t a kid.
Then I walked by the used bookstore that I drive by all the time and mean to go in but never do. I saw they were open, so I thought, “Why not?” I love used book stores and this one was quintessential – books everywhere, on shelves, piled all over the floor, piled in front of the cash register and on the counter. I explored a little, but once I set foot in a bookstore, I can never remember, beyond a few favorite authors, any books I’ve been meaning to read. I was on my way out the door empty handed after browsing for 15 minutes or so when I thought to look for any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work. I started in the fiction section with no luck, but that’s because, apparently, when you’ve been dead for a long time, they move you to “Literature.” I picked up a book of his short stories for $3. Score!
I continued on my walk (and don’t think I ambled, either – I was in it for exercise, not just entertainment), and saw a few other things:
This flower was on the ground, but all of the plants surrounding it were all green – there wasn’t a flowering bush in the bunch, so I thought about how it might have ended up there.
All of a sudden, the breeze picked up and brought with it what has got to be one of the best smells in the world:
Honeysuckle. That’s how you know it’s spring.
My first wishing dandelion of the season. And no, I can’t tell you what I wished for before I blew the seeds away.
Then my phone told me my camera memory was full, so here’s what I saw that I can’t show you:
- the unchained Rottweiler who scared the crap out of me when he silently ran up to the fence of his yard and stood on his hind legs on the fence (which was your standard chain link, and I bet he could have hopped it if he’d wanted to) when I walked past while paying attention to my phone and not my surroundings
- gorgeous roses and crocuses and hydrangeas and other flowers I don’t know the names of, in the yards of far better gardeners than I
- the kids in the skate park, showing off for the girls hanging around the perimeter
- the guy walking ahead of me, who I eventually passed, who was so engrossed in the book he was reading that he walked into intersections without looking to see if cars were coming
- two motorcycle cops, blocks apart, directing traffic for no discernible reason
The next thing I knew, I was near home, and I decided to take the really big hill that I usually walk down, and saw how everyone’s yards are changing and blooming.
What a good day. And to think I’d have missed all of that if I’d decided to wait for the bus.