1.20.2018

Hello from the heavy gray of deep January. It feels like a dense cloud settled down and has been sitting on top of us for the last few weeks, blurring all the edges of things and blocking out enough sunlight that the whole day is a suspended state of half-dark. Except for the sixteen hours when it’s fully dark.

I have meant to write at least a handful of times over the last few weeks. But somehow the gray stole my words before I got them out each time. So today, I bring you the remnants of those ideas, the scraps that January hasn’t yet rotted.

Ok, this is really a December tablescape. But I found the image on my phone in January. Because I have a phone that can take pictures again. Well, sort of. After three years of not having a smartphone (following two years of having one) and lots of feeling smug about having arranged my life so that I didn’t need one, I was forced to admit that it was really the best solution to lots of needs for our trip this summer. I haven’t brought myself to connect it to any service just yet, but just seeing it sitting on the coffee table in its waterproof case feels like one of the thousand tiny ways that this trip and all the preparation is feeling more real every day. Like somehow, the turning of the calendar switched something from “we’re going to do that” to “we’re doing that”.

Given how many miles I hope to log this year, it felt appropriate to ring in 2018 by walking 18 miles with a friend. We had this gem of a day to do it, maybe the last one that was cold and clear. We didn’t walk any pristine trail or even a walking path, but connected country roads and backstreets through town and a few county parks, walking from home out to the beach at a nearby state park. And it was fantastic – the weather, the six-hour conversation, and also the route.

Moving through our community and local landscape on foot allowed me to see all sorts of places that I had never noticed in a decade of living here. It really got me thinking about the places that are conducive to walking that I don’t notice, and about reclaiming a place for foot traffic in the places where it’s been crowded out. I hope to do a whole lot more walking of this sort – a kind of community wayfinding, and a way of fitting it into the landscape that exists rather than reserving it as a separate activity. I did a lot of walking like this when I was a city dweller, and I am long overdue in adapting that mindset to my rural existence.

The novelty of blue sky! Just a random snap, captured on the ferry ride home last weekend. With remnants of clouds hanging low over the water, perhaps with the rest of my words hidden inside.

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