Yesterday I took my first long walk in the neighborhood. The sun was warm and full in the clear heartbreakingly blue sky. The air was warm and breezes played among the leaves, chasing the squirrels through the trees and dancing with the birds in the sky. I was headed to the post office and there was a sense of fear and uncertainty, not because it was a long distance but because I was stiff and sore from stress, my legs feeling heavy and uncoordinated. I was determined. I needed to get outside, get into the sunshine and recharge my batteries. Looking at the world from behind the glass isn't enough for me. I need to soak up the elements and my surroundings, feel a part of the energy. I started up the hill, walking slowly and steadily.
The street is a collection of houses from different times: 1890s, 1910, 1920, 1940s and even 1950s. Old and simple iron fences in black surround some of the lots while stone and brick separate yards in different states between perfection and balding hummocks that run up to shaded porches wrapping grand Victorian ladies or blocky cement stoops in front of stucco and wood shotgun shacks.
A dog barked on the right as I neared one yard that reminded me of southern Ohio one-horse towns. No fence separated the dirt yard dotted with wild clumps of grass and weeds, flowers struggling up between wild chaotic hedges. I looked for a dog to race at me on the sidewalk to warn me off his territory. No dog. More barking, scrabbling claws, louder barking. A trailer parked in the dirt driveway caught my eye. The barking was coming from there. But it couldn't be coming from inside the trailer.
A big black dog pushed his nose against the screen from between ragged curtains and barked at me. The dog obviously lives IN the trailer. A sudden image of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker's air conditioned dog house flashed into my mind and I stifled the laugh bubbling to the surface; the owners of the house were in the yard. I didn't want to offend them or make them think I was escaped from some nut house. There are worse dog houses.
Up to the top of the hill, across the street and down the hill toward Pikes Peak and Colorado beyond that. A young man sanded something on top of a washer and dryer on the front porch of a faded Victorian perched up on the hill. He smiled and said hello. I smiled back and laughed. Yellow flowers of every size and description rippled beside the sidewalk in the warm breeze. A group of people -- the men in jeans, Texas sized belts and Stetsons, the women in dresses and tailored pants and silk blouses -- laughed and hugged, walking toward a Cadillac I almost expected to sprout longhorn cattle horns above the grille. Health conscious parents wearing backpacks and pushing jogging strollers speed walked past on the other side of the street. Cars whizzed and crept past on Colorado. Old Colorado City was alive with sound, the scents of food and flowers and the sight of color and movement. Sunlight glinted off windshields and flashed off sunglasses.
I waited for the light, crossed and walked the rest of the way to the post office on tireless legs. Everywhere, through windows and on sidewalks, a feast for the senses waited to be devoured. Cool shadowed store fronts and sun-kissed sidewalks waited to be explored.
I finished my business at the post office and wandered up and down the streets drinking in everything in sight, soaking up the sun and wind, filling myself with scent and sound. People of all descriptions tripped, jogged, walked, strolled, danced and meandered up and down the streets as stores pulled their wares from the sidewalks and closed their doors to make their way into the soothing atmosphere of the neighborhood. Groups of senior citizens and families chasing laughing children picnicked in the park.
The last delicate white flowers drifted from the trees to the street in a rain of fragrant summer snow as I walked the last two blocks toward home. The sun wandered toward the horizon on a molten stream of color and light as the mountains gathered the shadows close like a deep purple cloak and I walked through the gate, up the sidewalk, onto the porch and into the house to watch the day's finale from my sun porch.
There is something so healing about this new home of mine, something welcoming, something as familiar as childhood and as mysterious as a new adventure. Each day is a gift wrapped in joy and the discovery that I have more inside me than I ever dreamed, and this is the place where my gifts are being unwrapped.