Noticing What’s There

I recently completed 100 days of walking (see: “The Weight of Loss”). There were mornings when, admittedly, I was on auto-pilot. I would arrive back to my front door, and wonder where I’d been for the past forty-five minutes. But more and more, I woke up to my environment and the little visual surprises it offered. Following are some photo-stories that resulted.

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“Don’t ever spend a lot of money on sunglasses.” This is filed in my brain under “Advice From Mom That Was Actually Worth Following.” Many an expensive pair have perished. I sat on them. I left them in the taxi, on the plane, in the hotel room, on the beach, at the restaurant. The dog chewed them. The toddler threw them in the toilet. And flushed. Hundreds of dollars wasted. It almost seemed the more I spent on them, the sooner they ceased to be mine.

I wear prescription progressives for distance and reading and everything in between. If I am to wear sunglasses, this entails removing the glasses, putting them somewhere safe because they cost a semester’s worth of college tuition, pulling out the sunglasses from wherever I’ve hidden them from myself (purse? jacket pocket? glove compartment in car?) and donning them. Too many steps to make it worth it.

Recently I found the solution at Target for $14.99: clip-ons. I love them, and congratulate myself every time I put them on for finding something so ingenious and affordable.

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On my walk one morning, on the curb, I spotted this purplish blue plastic pair, absent-mindedly abandoned by a young person. I imagined her, mid-play-mode, being called indoors for dinner. I left them there on the sidewalk in hopes she would emerge from her home to play, and she would find them, not realizing until that very moment, that she’d even “lost” them.–

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The neighborhood is not zoned for farm animals. Imagine my surprise as I round the corner, and see a healthy Holstein chomping away at some crazy neighbor’s front lawn. As I get closer and my eyes begin to focus, I realize it’s not a real cow. The neighbor is still crazy, in my opinion, but it’s a two-dimensional, life-sized and lifelike rendering of a beautiful bovine. Why would you want this in your front yard unless you’re running a farm stand? In any event, Holly the Holstein can’t be bothered by my presence, so I continue on my way.

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The next day, the cow is facing in the opposite direction and is on the other side of this guy’s lawn. My explanation is that the grass was getting too long over there. Clearly, the cow needed to be relocated. Apparently, I’m as demented as the guy who put “Holly” there in the first place.

IMG_0849This makes my day, and I think to myself, the owner of this cow is someone I’d like to share a bottle of wine with while we eat our veggie burgers.

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There is an elementary school close to my home, and sometimes on my morning walks, I take the route the children will be taking an hour later on their way to school. I am amazed by the array of things dropped by little children between home and school: permission slips that will never be signed by parents, portions of Lunch-ables (or just the empty containers), candy wrappers, apple cores, decorative girly hair thingies, keys attached to Minion keychains, pencils, random clothing. Sidewalks are apparently little children’s garbage cans although, in their defense, sometimes they’re just oblivious to the fact that their belongings are no longer in their possession.

On this particular day, I spotted a toy brontosaurus no bigger than my thumb. I was immediately transported back into time when my son was cuckoo crazy about anything having to do with dinosaurs. His father and I “fed” this obsession; he had dinosaur EVERYTHING: t-shirts, caps, pajamas, bedsheets, stuffed toys, posters and every age-appropriate book on the subject. He knew all their names, could pronounce and spell them correctly, knew which ones were carnivores and which were herbivores, and dreamed of becoming a paleontologist.

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When the first Jurassic Park movie came out in 1993 Julian was only three. I had to keep it a secret from him because he was, in fact, a little too young for some of those scenes. Years later, his dinomania continued, and he insisted that his piano instructor teach him the musical theme to the movie.

I thought of the little boy (or girl) who had lost the diminutive dino, and how he or she might be mourning its absence. So I placed it in the nook of two tree branches at eye level for an adult, in hopes that a caring mom or dad would see it and return it to its rightful owner. Days later it was gone. Hopefully, it made it home.

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There isn’t always something photograph-worthy on my walks, but that was never the intention. Having something catch my eye when I happened to have iPhone camera in hand, was a kind of surprising bonus. There’s nothing exotic or particularly special about the area where I live and walk, but when I allowed myself to notice, when I gave myself permission to truly BE where I was, little treasures and their stories had the opportunity to emerge.

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