Right in My Backyard

I rarely walk in the park behind my house. It’s not large, so  I need to walk the concrete sidewalk that surrounds it six times to make one hour.  It’s fairly flat with no real challenges, except for that concrete sidewalk that aggravates my feet.  I’ve also read a few unsettling crime reports in the paper. Those are just excuses, though; a few “incidents” in twenty years make pretty good safety odds, and strangely enough I don’t complain of foot pain when I walk the cobblestone streets of Europe. If I walk the same path six times I might actually notice what is beneath my nose. 

That’s what happened last week when I renewed my determination to walk an hour each day, but I didn’t have time to drive to a more “interesting” trail. I resorted to the park and started to walk more briskly than usual to make up for the flat terrain.

One upside of budget cuts is that a greater area of the park has been left unmowed. Arcade Creek winds along one side of it, and an untouched corridor of oak trees and blackberries lines the creek. Grass had been allowed to grow higher, and among the grass I found an amazing abundance of white lilies that I’d never seen before.

Farther along, under the pine trees that shield the park from the power station, blue dicks and wally baskets were making a rare appearance.

Other flowers in the park may be labeled weeds, but that’s just a matter of perspective. Emerson wrote that a weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.  A grandfather was teaching his little granddaughter the virtues of dandelions, and I’m not talking salads and wine. I overheard him explaining to her that a dandelion flower gone to seed is called a “blowflower.” She did blow, and thought that was the greatest flower ever invented.

 I usually don’t get up early enough to hear many birds singing, but today they were putting on a special performance for me. I saw robins, still my favorite birds, and heard a woodpecker but couldn’t spy where he was building his nest. Maybe someday I’ll get around to learning more bird names, but flowers are easier since they stay put longer.

In short, I walked “mindfully” and got rid of most of the frustrations burbling around in my mind. If these flowers have been here every spring for the twenty years I’ve lived in this house, then call me a total idiot. I won’t miss them again.

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