I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ruminations on a new year

A contemplative place
Yesterday on the walk with the ladies, I wanted to go over the bridge and get a picture of the roaring waterfall, but we were heading elsewhere, so I kept getting behind when I'd stop to take a picture. This is as close as I got to the falls. These ladies walk fast, and I was continually lagging behind. I'd have to run a little to catch up; I didn't want to hold anybody up because I was not concentrating hard enough on keeping up the pace.

One of the reasons I enjoy this walk is the challenge to maintain a pace that is much faster than I would go by myself. When I first began walking with them, seven years ago now, I'd almost always struggle to keep up. There tend to be two groups: one very fast and the other keeping a pace not quite as fast. I try hard to stay at the forefront of the slower group; Cindy (our leader) always stops at junctions and waits until the second group is in sight before heading off again. It's partly because of this walk that I am able to keep up with my sister when I visit her in Florida. She would be at the front of the first group.

Cindy was a competitive race walker for many years before she started leading a group of fun walkers every Saturday morning at 8:00am. It's open to everyone, but many times someone will come once or twice and decide it's too fast a pace (around four miles an hour). I am probably the oldest person who comes on these walks on a regular basis, although there are many retired ladies among us. Men are welcome, but for some reason they don't return after a time or two. It is part of my routine that helps to keep me fit. I'm usually sweating hard no matter the temperature; it's a good workout.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of our move from Boulder, Colorado, to Bellingham, Washington. It was April 2008 when we first pulled up our rented U-Haul to our new apartment. SG had already scouted out possible places to live, and he had found a place that we both agreed would be a good starting point. Although I was still in Boulder, finishing up the last weeks in my job before retiring, he left his car here and flew back to Boulder so that I could drive my car and he could drive the U-Haul.

It was a sunny day and everything was in full bloom when we arrived. The environment here in Bellingham is completely different from Boulder's semi-arid conditions. I remember noticing how lush everything seemed, with plenty of green everywhere. Now it's become the norm: when I went back to visit Boulder, it seemed strange to see the sparse vegetation that once was normal to me. Funny how that happens.

Now it's been ten years and this is my home. We moved once, four years ago, from one apartment in the complex to another, but we are still here appreciating the many joys of the Pacific Northwest in almost the same place we first arrived. Most of the time, I don't even mind the rain, and I've amassed quite a collection of clothing that helps to exercise and play outside in all the conditions we find ourselves exposed to. Bellingham was a brilliant move for us, and the many friendships I've made over the years enrich my days.

Today I'll go to the movies with my friend Judy, now that the holidays are over and her family has returned to their own homes, she's available to me once again. I met her at the Y and we had coffee after class one day, and that was the beginning of a dear friendship of two like-minded women of a certain age. Our partners don't particularly like the same things we do, so we enjoy movies, excursions, and dinners together on a regular basis. Ten years now!

I got a text yesterday from my sister Norma Jean that her son Peter successfully returned from a trip to the East Coast. He drove there, and I was worried about how he would get back, with the awful weather hitting the entire eastern half of the country. He did attempt to leave earlier this week but ended up staying with some friends halfway back to Florida. I just looked at the weather and we are both experiencing temperatures in the mid-forties at the moment. For a time, she had colder weather in Florida than we had here. I read that iguanas were falling out of the trees, frozen and stunned by the extreme cold. (Apparently they weren't dead in most cases and just needed to warm up.) Now that would be a sight!

I watched a few rescues on the news, animals that fell through ice and were pulled out by good samaritans. One poor dog was pulled out just in the nick of time, and I was so relieved to see him wrapped in blankets and recovering afterwards. When I was pondering what to write about this morning, I thought about all those people who are helping others through this terrible cold and snow covering so much of our country and thought it would be a good topic. But once I sat down to write, I just couldn't quite get anything going, much less something that I would need to research. Nope, that was not where I was headed today. Instead, I didn't actually venture very far from the confines of my own little cocoon: tea finished, partner sleeping, and the tapping of the keys on my laptop here in the dim light of this Sunday morning before dawn, our first visit of the new year.

One thing doesn't change from year to year: my sincere desire that we all have a wonderful and fulfilling trip around the sun, once again. I know things change; it's the nature of life, but for you, my dear reader, and for all those I hold dear, I wish us all a year filled with love, light, and wonder. Be well until we meet again next week.


Linda Reeder said...

Good morning. Thanks for those beautiful, heartfelt wishes. I hope the same for you.
It's a rainy Sunday morning, darkness departing reluctantly as the sun light tries to penetrate the heavy clouds. We will seek some indoor recreation today - antique shopping I think - after a busy week of transitioning our home and our selves out of holiday mode.

I was somewhat saddened that you could not take the time to stop and appreciate that waterfall on that charming bridge. I realize that you are in it for the challenging exercise, but in that setting I would want to be able to "stop and smell the roses". Four miles an hour is not a rate I can sustain, probably never could. I am down to about three miles an hour now, with all of my arthritis issues. Maybe you need to revisit the place on your own just with photography in mind. Slow down a bit and soak in the serenity.

Marie Smith said...

If I could walk like you, I’d continue with that group too. Keep doing what you love as long as you can. Enjoy every minute! Your home has been a blessing in your life! You are fortunate. Not too many people can say the same, Jan. Enjoy the movie!

Rian said...

Love that picture of the bridge! Thanks for sharing it with us, DJan.

Elephant's Child said...

Love your wishes for us - and I hope that karma ensures they roost with you.
I would definitely be at the very back of the slow pack. But hope I would continue.
And I am so pleased that you found Judy and have a decade of friendship to build on.

Arkansas Patti said...

Me thinks your group needs one more section. Those that like to take photographs and maybe sit on a bench and enjoy the views occasionally. They could be the third division though that might not be challenging enough. Keep enjoying and running to catch up.
Thank you for your sweet and caring thoughts for us. Right back at ya.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to have a very good friend like yours. I am glad you like living where you are.

Red said...

It's a bit of a gamble when you move to a very different area. the gamble paid off for you as you really like the area.

Gigi said...

I've also heard about the iguanas falling out of the trees. I kind of feel like an iguana - this weather has stunned me! I knew it was coming but didn't expect it to be so...COLD!

It is odd to move so far from what it was home and then go back. That is usually when you realize that your move was for the best...even if it IS hellishly cold right now. ;-)

Have a wonderful week, DJan! xo

Far Side of Fifty said...

We were 29 degrees today!!! No sun...but warmer. Poor Iguanas falling out of the trees.
Last Thursday we went to recycle at the recycle bins right next to the Fire Hall in a little berg nearby...only a few houses there maybe ten, a Post Office, a church and the fire hall. We were met by a medium sized dog, short hair, female, friendly and from the paw prints in the snow she had been there a little while. I petted her, no collar. She sat to be petted. Two hours later we went by again and she was still there...obviously she had been dumped there and abandoned. We had Chance in the car and there was now way were going to put a strange abit friendly dog in the car with him. When I got home...I put a notice on facebook to see if someone was missing a dog and wrote what i knew of her story. I called the sheriffs office...no help there. I called the human society and they would take her if someone brought her over there. One gal saw the story and went and picked her up and she is now at the humane society..so it had a happy ending. Wish I could have done more...and I would have gone back later to get her if she had not been picked up. I hope who ever dropped her off freezes. :)

Glenda Council Beall said...

We are all trying to get through the cold here in our area. I like winter weather most of the time, but when it is down in the teens or lower as it has been lately, I go into hibernation. Some days I never get dressed, but I find much to keep me busy in my house.
I admire your ability to hike and to keep up with that group. I was in such pain with my feet and hip yesterday I could hardly make it from room to room in my house. Too much of a sedentary life has crippled me in my later years. But, I will work on it as I can and hope to get better.
I wish for you the best year of health and joy, DJan.

The Furry Gnome said...

Glad your years in Bellingham have turned out well. I'm still adapting here. Having surgery and this big cold snap and snow in the first few weeks of moving here has put a damper on getting out and about and involved locally.

Rita said...

Even when I was young and healthy I could never be in a group that couldn't stop and appreciate the beauty around us every once in a while. But then I would probably never have been a true walker. I'm much more of a meanderer. My ex hated to bike with me because I was too slow and was always stopping to look at things--LOL! Guess I never did things just for the exercise--probably should have, I suppose. But I remember all the walks and the bicycle rides with great fondness.

I hope you and Judy have many more years of great friendship and camaraderie. You really did settle down in a perfect place for you and have made so many friends. Here's to another year around the sun! :)

Mage said...

Thank you for all those wonderful wishes. I'm spoiled living at the beach down south. Wrapped in a light sweatshirt, I wish you peace and happiness in return.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

New year, new energy! Happy 2018, DJan!

Sally Wessely said...

It’s always good to read your Sunday morning post. It is now Tuesday evening, but I am getting it read. I’m trying to revive my blogging habit.

I so admire your walking and hiking routine. I love the lifestyle you have in your now ten year old hometown. You have made such a great life for yourself there, but you didn’t do it by sitting around. You got out and met others and stayed active.

Happy New Year, dear DJan. Hugs.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Blessings and happy new year.
its a good way to keep fit.
its good that you keep up the routine. 7 years is a long time, good for you.

have a blessed and healthy new year.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for the 2018 good wishes. Somehow, I feel that this is going to be a good year for so many of us. It's as if the stars and planets have aligned. Maybe not the age of Aquarius, but mighty close! Peace.

C-ingspots said...

It's a wonderful feeling of being "home". I've lived in the PNW all my life and oftentimes daydream about moving to a more dry climate where mud wouldn't be the word of so many days. But when I start really looking around, I feel like we're living in one of the best and most close to perfect places I've seen. Perfection doesn't exist, but it's always amazing to me just how often we need to be thankful for where we are.

Your walks truly sound wonderful to me! If I lived closer, I'd love to join up and reap the benefits of that time spent outdoors, with like-minded people and getting all that exercise. I shouldn't do this, but I do dream of the day when I can retire and my time is truly my own. My mom would tell me to "stop wishing your life away". She'd probably be right. But I still do. I'm so tired of giving up so much of my precious time to making money to survive. I long for freedom.

Once again DJan, thank you for this post. Most times when I read your words, I feel more peaceful and even hopeful that there's much time ahead and adventures to be had. Happy New Year to you and your partner. May life be full and blessed...peace to you.

troutbirder said...

I've always been slightly jealous of your hiking group and ability to take long hikes in beautiful places. Yet I'm the contemplative type who loves to stop and absorb those special places snap a picture or two with my cheapo little pocket camera and no doubt lag behind. It's why I gave up golfing in a wooded course with a trout stream. When my golfing buddies were hurrying along I was lagging in the woods looking for a lost bally while checking out the spring wildflowers...:)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I’m sometimes slow in commenting on Eye but I never want to miss one of your posts! :-) You’ve posted another excellent read here. I had to stop for a moment and think about how fast time is going by. Well, we’ve been following each other’s blogs for quite a while now and when you mentioned it has been 4 years since you moved from one apartment to another I recall you writing about it and just can’t believe 4 years have gone by! Wow! In today’s post I am curious why men will go along on the walk for a time or two and then not return. If I lived up there I would want to go with you guys and see what it is like. I am a strong believer in the importance of walking for seniors! It can make a lot of difference in the way one feels and that is for sure. Thank you for sharing your blog and for your kind comments on mine. John