A Waltz in the Park

(I originally published this on the Bellingham Bay Blog – but I thought it might fit well here, too. :))

Something really magical happened in Bellingham this morning – actually, many magical things happened in Bellingham this morning, but let’s start with THIS one:

As I was walking along the shore in Boulevard Park I looked across the green and saw a man on the other side, in the parking lot, moving in a way that made me think he was maybe doing tai chi. I love how people move when they’re doing tai chi and I’d like to learn how to do that myself – so I started trying to follow his movements – I raised my arm when he raised his arm, I turned when he turned – and at some point he recognized what I was doing and we smiled at each other across the park. When I walked around the park to the other side I thanked him and then… I’m not sure how this happened, exactly – but the next thing I knew he’d raised his hand to mine and we were dancing! In the parking lot. At Boulevard Park. That’s what he’d been doing all along – he’d been dancing! I could hear the music then – it sounded like an Asian waltz – I know I’m not explaining this well, but… the notes were D, F, G, B flat, G… for those of you who have a scale in your head. (“A Scale in Your Head” would make a great title for a book, wouldn’t it?)

It was cosmic!. We danced around the parking lot for a few minutes. And then I thanked him – he smiled – I don’t think he spoke English – and let me take a picture of us together.

I was still thinking about my waltz in the park when I got to the parking lot above the boardwalk. And then this deer walked across the road – and a little spotted fawn suddenly appeared, too, skipping along behind her. All of us who were walking along the road just stopped and watched them pass. “Well, THAT was magic,” I said. And this man smiled at me and said, “Isn’t that a great way to start the day?!”

And there was an eagle – soaring right above me! And… and… well, here are some pictures from my morning…
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“I Think That’s the Most Tired I’ve Ever Been.”

When I stop by to see Dad I find him eating his “breakfast” at the table. I ask him if he’d like to go for a drive and he says yes, he’d like that. Megan helps him get his shoes on and brings me a jacket in case Dad gets cold. We help Dad out to the car and help him get into his seat.

Before I start on the drive I turn to Dad. He has come to associate me telling him I love him with me saying good-bye. So I decide that today I will tell him I love him at the very start of our adventure.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you! (He crinkles up his nose and we give each other Eskimo kisses.)

Dad: I like the drive we took last time – to the west side.
Karen: Yeah, that was nice, wasn’t it? (But I have other plans for us today. )
(I go around the round-about and exit onto I-5, heading north. I know this isn’t what Dad is expecting – we usually head straight onto Chuckanut – and I hope that he will enjoy the idea of doing something different today. As we head out onto I-5 we pass the huge American flag that waves from the pole next to the freeway…)
Dad: That is the biggest flag I think I have ever seen.

I exit onto Lake Samish Road – I’m going to take the back way to Bellingham…

Dad: Les Laird died last week. I wasn’t in the office when it happened. I’m not sure why he died. (Les Laird was Dad’s old boss. Dad has been retired for 35 years.)

My plan is to take Dad to Boulevard Park and maybe buy him a vanilla milkshake. I’ve found that parking at the park is usually limited, but I’m hoping that maybe today something will just miraculously open up for us. It could happen, right? And sure enough – there’s one spot! – right there in front of the children’s pirate ship playground. I help Dad out of the car and we make our way to a picnic table near the playground. We’re about half-way there when a man and a young woman start to sit at the table – but the man looks up and notices us and graciously tells us we can have the table. I tell him we can share it, and he and the woman smile and agree to that plan.

A couple youngsters of about six-years-old come up and join us then – the man introduces them as his grandsons. I give a quick intro – tell them all that Dad is 100-years-old and a “famous mountain-climber” – and settle Dad in with our new friends. I go to buy him a shake. After I order the shake I come back to check on him. The man tells me his grandsons were really excited by the idea that they were with a famous mountain-climber.

When I go back to the shop the shake is ready – perfect timing!

The man and woman introduce themselves to me – they are Gary and his daughter, Shelby. Gary tells us that he lives in Arizona and brought one of his grandsons with him to come up here and visit Shelby and his other grandson.

We talk about the beauty of Arizona and the beauty of Washington State. I ask Gary if he’s ever been into the Grand Canyon, and he said he walked along the bottom of it once. I tell him I once got half-way down to the canyon bottom – to a place called Indian Gardens – and he knows exactly what I’m talking about. I turn to Dad then…
Karen: Dad, did you ever go to Arizona?
Dad: Yeah.
Karen: Did you ever go to the Grand Canyon?
Dad: Yeah. I hiked down to the bottom and back.Ten miles. In one day. I think that’s the most tired I’ve ever been.
Karen: (This is hard for me to imagine – Dad has, after all, climbed on K2, but I’m thinking maybe it was really hot when he was there.) Was it hot when you went down there?
Dad: No, it was winter.
Gary: (Smiling.) Well, sometimes it can get pretty hot in the winter, too. (Thinking.) We’ve had a lot of rain lately – Arizona is covered in flowers right now.
Karen to Gary: I bet it’s beautiful! (Thinking about Dad’s southwest roots.) Dad grew up in Los Angeles. He was born there in 1918. He hiked around in the Sierras when he was young.
Karen to Dad: Was Mount Whitney the first mountain you climbed?
Dad: I don’t know. (Thinking.) It was one of the first.
(I notice Dad is buttoning up his sweater and ask him if he’d like me to get his jacket out of the car. He says yes. I get the jacket out of the car and bring it back to him. I help him put his arms into the sleeves.)
Dad: (Zipping up the jacket.) That’s much better.

After a while it seems like it’s the right time to head back to Skagit County.
Karen to Dad: Are you ready to go?
Dad: Not really.
Karen: (Having a flashback of those times when the sons were toddlers and didn’t want to leave the local park. I realize I’m going to have to finesse this. I rephrase it… ) Are you ready to continue on our drive?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah.
(We say good bye to our new friends and make our way back to the car.)

Back on the road. I decide to get Dad back to his home by way of Chuckanut Drive. This is a beautiful drive along cliffs over-looking the bay.
Dad: (Looking out the window.) This is a nice drive. There are the San Juan Islands.

When we get back into the Skagit flats I stop at the post office to pick up my mail.
Dad: We usually stop here, don’t we?
Karen: Yup!
(I get the mail and find a letter to Dad from my cousin, Deborah. I hand him the letter and he opens it.)
Dad: (Pointing to a picture of Debby with her partner.) Is that you?
Karen: (Smiling – Debby and I have often mistaken ourselves for each other in photos.) Nope, that’s Debby Davidson.
Dad: Oh. I’ve always really liked Debby. She’s a nice person.
Karen: Yes, she is!

Mount Baker has been in clouds most of the day, but now – as if to greet Dad – it comes out of the clouds and Dad notices it right away. He keeps his eyes on Baker as we drive down backroads on the Skagit flats.

We cross over the freeway and enter into Burlington.
Dad: There’s that big flag again.
Karen: Yup!

I help Dad into the house and he heads for the recliner in front of the television. I decide that I will tell Dad good-bye BEFORE I tell him I love him again…
Karen: Good bye, Daddy.
Dad: Good bye, Karen.
Karen: I really enjoyed our drive today!
Dad: *I* really enjoyed our drive! Thank you!
Karen: I love you!
Dad: I love you!

(A collection of previous “Dad Stories” can be found in Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad.)

shelby, gary, dad

Sun-Cleansed

I learned some cool stuff on my walk around Lake Padden today. As I passed a couple of women in animated conversation walking the other direction, I heard one woman say to the other one, “There will be people with their noses pressed up against your window…” and I had to know what they were talking about, right?

So I asked, “Why will people be pressing their noses up against your window?”

And the woman who was the subject of the noses-pressed-against-her-window said that she’s been reading these books by a Canadian author named Louise Penny – and these books are wonderful! And she’s been telling all her friends about them.

“Are these cozy murder mysteries? I love cozy murder mysteries.”

The two women looked at each other and finally one of them said, “Well, they’re cozy, yes – but maybe not in the way you’d expect.”

Perfect! I just ordered the first one for my Kindle!

Then as I was stopped on the trail waiting for some really exuberant dogs to be pulled away from each other by their respective owners, I looked up and there was my old friend, Elena! I haven’t seen her for, like, a year! And we talked and chatted and she introduced me to her friend, Katie. That was fun.

A little further on, after I came out of the woods, I stood in a patch of sunshine for a few minutes to warm up my toes – which had started to become numb. A woman approached and I smiled and said, “Doesn’t the sun feel great?!” And she smiled back at me and agreed that it did. She had an accent of some kind – French maybe? – and she had a subtle fragrance that smelled of flowers. I usually try to avoid fragrances – but this one was really lovely – and I asked her what it was. She said it was Kenzo flower perfume. If I ever buy perfume, that will be the one I get.

As I was still standing in the sun, a man named Hans stopped to chat and told me (and I never knew this!) that sun is a sanitizer – and that vultures spread their wings in the sun to sanitize themselves.

I really like the idea of being sun-cleansed.

Today I was sun-cleansed and I met some really cool people, too.

(Below are some autumn reflections from Lake Padden today.)

A Perfect Day

“DAY. The irradiance of Life; light, the spiritual idea of Truth and Love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Clara Kitty jumped onto our woodstove (it’s been warm here and we’ve not been using it) and bent over and peered into the window at the front of it. I followed her gaze and saw a little face inside the woodstove looking out at me! There was a little chickadee in there waiting to be set free! I put Clara and Sam the Wonder Dog in the laundry room and shut the door. I opened one of the French doors to the deck and then opened the woodstove door and the little bird flew out, and went sailing towards the dining room. “No, here, Sweetie! Come out this way!” I encouraged her – and she looped back towards me and then winged out the door to the outside and disappeared. I’m so glad Clara saw her, and I’m so glad I was here so I could help her.

***

What a perfect day! Walked from Fairhaven to the Farmers Market – ran into an old photographer-friend and met a new one. On impulse, stopped in to see a dear friend who works downtown – I’d been missing her and it was so good to see her again! Bought some raspberry honey and cinnamon pecans – and listened to the Farmer Market’s musicians work their magic. Walked back to Fairhaven and then drove home. Took Sam the Wonder Dog for a walk. Mowed my Secret Garden and saw honeybees in the rosa rugosa! (I haven’t seen many honeybees, yet, and was getting a little concerned.) Planted some sunflower seedlings and watered things. And rescued a chickadee from our woodstove. I figured I walked about eight miles today. My muscles feel all stretched and happy, my yard smells like freshly-mowed grass, and there’s a little chickadee safely back with her family after a scary encounter with the inside of a woodstove. Life is good.

Pictures from today…

 

Waving to the Amtrak

Scenes from Bellingham Bay

Okay, this tickles me: Whenever an Amtrak train goes zipping by I just gotta wave. I cannot help myself. So the other night Andrew takes the family out to dinner (it’s his Christmas gift to us) – and we’re all sitting there (Scott, Xander, Andrew, and Andrew’s girlfriend, Sierra) and Sierra and Andrew start talking about a trip they took on the Amtrak to Vancouver last weekend. And (this is the part that has me cracking up) apparently as their train went cruising by Bellingham Bay last weekend they saw me down on the boardwalk waving up at the cars. “Look!” Sierra said to Andrew as their train rumbled passed, “There’s your mom!” Hahhahahar!  Ain’t life fun?!

(I happened to take a photo of the train that day – little did I know my son and his girlfriend were on there.)

Amtrack train

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“The dam bursts…”

“You always had the power, my dear.” – Glinda the Good Witch

My friend, Randy, has given me permission to share his poem. It perfectly captures what I felt yesterday at the Bellingham Women’s March:

The hard and steady tread of feet
on the sidewalk, in the street,
always forward, no retreat,
The dam bursts,
its flood o’ertakes,
leaving miracles in its wake…
– Randy Kercher

I arrived at the Bellingham Women’s March a little earlier than most people. I’d gone by myself and wasn’t sure I’d be able to find anybody I knew there – but no sooner had I parked than a couple of retired teachers from my old school district walked past my car. We all grinned when we saw each other and gave each other hugs, and walked together to the city courthouse, where the march would start. I ended up running into a lot familiar faces there – former students; teaching colleagues; neighbors – some of my all-time favorite people…

I met some wonderful new friends there, too, and saw some great signs…

I stood near the front of the crowd when I first arrived. There weren’t a lot of people then. About a half hour later I started working my way towards the back to get a group photo – and I went back and back and back and still didn’t come to the end. By the time we started on the march they’d had to make the walk longer to accommodate all the people – we were looping ourselves – the people in front were finishing their march and there were still people in the back who hadn’t even started, yet. The estimates are 6,000 people – and that was just in Bellingham!

I so appreciated the police officers who were at the march. They were friendly and smiling and supportive. At the end of the march, I said to one of the officers, “We did good today, didn’t we?” And he smiled back and said, “Yes, you did!”

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It was awesome to be in the midst of thousands of people all working together for a better world. There was an amazing power in that. I left the march feeling grateful and hopeful for humanity.

Today’s lesson…

“Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

So I’m out on my walk in Bellingham – there is much glorious autumnal color to be had – gold and ruby are dripping from the trees and forming arches over the paths. But there are people walking the paths, too – spaced in just such a way that as soon as one walker gets out of my camera’s view, another appears. I’m feeling frustrated by this. At this rate I’ll be waiting all day to get a people-less picture.

I smile at the walkers as they go by me, and they all smile back and wish me a good day. And finally! – the path is clear – I raise my camera to shoot a photo – and one more walker appears around the curve in the path. I lower my camera and wait. He’s moving at a steady pace. I smile at him as he approaches, and he smiles back. As explanation for why I’m still standing there – I point down the path to an arch of branches over the trail and tell him I want to take a photo of that. He smiles and agrees that it’s beautiful, and says that if you go further down the trail you’ll see more of those arches. I notice the cool earrings dangling from his ears and tell him how much I like them, and he says thank you. I ask him if I can take his picture and he tells me sure. I shake his hand and introduce myself, and he tells me his name is Todd. I have met a new friend.

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Todd

And as I’m walking back down the trail, it occurs to me that God had been presenting me with gifts all morning – wonderful people who were walking the path with me. It took me awhile to realize and recognize Love’s largesse – but I’m happy to say, I finally got it. 🙂