To The Right

In America, we drive on the right side of the road.  Also, people here generally walk on the right side of the sidewalk, busy hiking trails, even grocery store isles. When I walk along the trails around a nearby lake, I keep to the right side of the path.  If I have the trail to myself, I walk right down the middle as if I owned the place.

What is your neighborhood like during the pandemic? Where I am I have noticed giving another pedestrian 6 feet is seen as a courtesy; in the grocery store, offices, parks, etc., keeping your distance is a sign of good manners. It is awkward or rude if a person stands too close to another. Feathers get ruffled.

Earlier this year, before the snowpack in the mountains could build and the rains of the Northwest La Nina winter began, Padden Gorge Trail was dry and quiet. The creek was all but dried up. The cold air chased away many birds and I experienced the eerie sensation of standing in a silent forest.

To The Right
second draft

The woods are quiet today
I do not hear the rustle of a bird
no wind playing at the leaves
no foraging of a rodent
or the panting of a dog
Padden Creek is down to its
late summer trickle
Everything is off

My ears reach for the sound of people
at the lake trail on end with mine
I hear no one
I haven’t been sleeping lately
For a moment I am dream walking
zombified in this quiet wood
with no direction, no purpose
No others to use as a reference
or provide a sense of direction
No validation of movement
or placement

I walk down the canyon trail in silence.
surrounded by silence

Then–they find me
The crunching roar of off-road bike tires
approach me from behind
I move to the right
The joggers with focused steps
and controlled pants
I move to the right
Two dogs and two owners
come at me head-on
I move to the right
Facedown each time to make sure
my breath does not mix with theirs
Behind me I hear the steps of another walker
I move to the right
I’m a slow walker compared to others
I know this walker will pass me
I wait
no walker
Then turn to look
No one

There are two places on these trails
where the sound tricks the ear
My own steps sound like another
getting ready to pass
but it is just me
and my steps
echoing off the walls
of the thick forest

How nice of me to give the same
courtesy I give others
unknowingly
yet, still as sweet

A Noisey Padden Creek

Feature Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Day 53: Thinking to Much

Shower Thoughts: If you were invisible, you’d be effectively blind since light would pass through your retina rather than striking it.

This morning I am writing from my bed-desk. I’m thinking about the parts of me that need a shower and weighing that against the effort to leave my warm bed.  The bedroom window is open a bit and the sounds of crows, seagulls, and chickadees, other spring birds, and that goddamn weed wacker play on random all morning.  How many weeds you gotta wack buddy?!  Landscapers in Bellingham are considered essential.  Go figure.

a pink crab-apple in full bloom

The crabapple tree outside the window has wilted. Old blooms still cling to the tree, waiting for the new fruit, developing below the surface, to push them off to the ground.

I heard on the radio this morning that nationally Americans spent less money on food in April than they did in March.  My grocery bills went up this last month because I’m shopping at smaller grocery stores; they have fewer products to help cover the cost for their property taxes, etc.  Are they grocery boutiques?  My cousin told me about a grocery store in the Chicago suburbs, where he use to live, that experimented with a carpeted grocery store.  It grossed everyone out, and you couldn’t navigate your shopping cart very well.  It was a fail.

path around the lake is wide

Friday is my day off.  Unless a “fire” happens with any of the properties or publications the day is mine.  Yep, all mine.

Traffic around town is almost at normal levels.  Many people, including myself, still drive distracted.  Forgetting to signal, not looking both ways, driving way to slow on the freeways.  It’s very strange or maybe it is normal now.

Decided last night to walk by the bay instead of my standard walk around the lake in the old-growth forest.  The park by the bay was packed!  I turned around and headed for another trail I know close by.  I’m just not ready to jump into a crowd yet, and that’s OK.  I’m not like my polar opposites that meet in groups for BBQ’s, house parties, and Capitol protests.  In other states, these folks carry guns in public to help illustrate their rights to assemble, get a haircut, and eat at the Applebees.  True Americans.  I wonder if they assemble because there are no “old” people in their lives?  Are there no friends around them that are “high risk” for the virus? Diabetics? Obese? Over 60-year-olds?  People recovering from cancer or other illness?  That must be it.  How nice of them to speak for us that do.

I look forward to this all being over.  I fear I will discover that my post-lockdown life is as similar to full pandemic mode.  Honestly, I FEEL the pandemic because it is everywhere.  It is a global event. This planet of peoples moan and wiggle like a two-year-old sitting through a piano recital.

IF the world were normal right now, which it will never be again, then I could enjoy this morning.  This morning where I slept in, until 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast & drank coffee in bed, started writing, and I’m still here at 11:36 am. Glorious.  If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019, I would not label this morning a case of “pandemic depression”, no…it would be relaxation.  A person could even go so far as to say it is what the pre-pandemic modern world use to refer to as a “personal day.” (remember personal days?) I could find joy in working at home if all my neighbors got into their cars and drove to work this morning! THEN today would be a special day for me.  But, it is not.  It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing but the heavy responsibility of staying home and saving lives. Whatever…

**

Here is a draft I’m fussing with today:

Eyes Open
by Shannon Laws

I awake with a dry throat
from moaning in my sleep
I’m nailed to my bed
by the sounds of one a.m.

a rustle of false blueberry bush
heavy bodies trot by with a snort
I think I hear an owl a few blocks over
open mouths of raccoons act out a scene
play fight under the staged crab-apple tree

It’s so busy outside
at night
when all I do is sleep

##

My current mood expressed in a meme.  Take care.  Be a hero and stay home.
-Shannon