This evening, at dusk, the kids and I took the puppy for a walk around the neighbourhood. It had been raining off and on all day, but we intended to walk no matter what the weather was like. I'm a firm believer that children and dogs do not melt in the rain. I don't like being wet. Or cold. But sometimes, you just have to put on some good outerwear and go for it. Suck it up, princess.
With the temperature rising above freezing, and the air damp, mist curled across the pavement. I love noticing things like this with the kids. Every little discovery is huge. Cars would drive by and we squealed about the way the mist swirled across the headlights.
The kids and the dog like to run ahead sometimes, but I drag out the OLD excuse and just keep up a steady brisk walk. Truthfully I was feeling kind of old tonight. I was wearing my killer boots when I went out last night- the red ones with the very high heels. Surprized? That I own killer red boots or that I went out to see a band on a school night? I'm full of surprizes. And today I have sore feet because of it. And sore ankles, and sore knees. I looked down at my feet, now wrapped in sensible winter boots, stomping along down the sidewalk.
I got a sudden surge of hatred for living in town. I resent the concrete sidewalks and the pavement. I hate the regimented lawns and paved driveways and sculpted bushes. I hate the way the streetlights reflect off the mist in the air and create a dirty glow. I hate the cigarette butts and chewing gum that I have to pry out of my pug's steel trap of a mouth after he picks it up on the street.
How many times, on one of my twice daily dog walks, have I wished that I could leave my house and trek down a bush lane, a tractor path, and let my dog run free beside me? There are lovely ravine trails in my town but I have to walk through some very stuffy neighbourhoods to get there. I have memories of long walks, in places far enough away from urban life, that stuck in my mind because of all the detail in the unplanned scenery.
The rain crushes down the long grass. Last year's fallen leaves turning into mush. Dandelions defiantly and gloriously growing anywhere they can. A fallen tree branch turned into an accidental sculpture. Worms after the rain. Crickets. The damp, green smells of earth. Or the sharp scent of red leaves. Snow that stays white because it doesn't have road sand and salt ground into it.
I don't know why, but when I think of going for a walk down the bush lane, it's usually a mental image from just after a rain.
I took a deep breath and reminded myself that living in town has good qualities. The pavement and concrete keeps the mud at bay. I say that I don't mind mud but I also know how difficult it makes getting around. The streetlights are helpful in the dark. I believe there's nothing like a full moon night- the light is different from any other light source- but I've also been out in the dark enough to know that artificial light can be good sometimes.
And finally, the greatest thing about living in town, other than my awesome neighbours: Looking in stranger's windows. Man, that is great. I don't know who you people are, but some of you are really tacky. The beige walls with the two matching biege lamps, the bad print of a mountain on the wall, and the grey couch, honestly, make you look like you're living in a Travelodge. Some of you, though, know how to do it up right. That house with the identical floor plan to mine, with the scarlet red living room? Awesome. Good job. I have scarlet curtains. I approve.
I resigned myself to accepting my townie situation, with regret, as I have done how many times every day for the last decade and a half. I know that nature is the one unstoppable force. Even in the city, the grass will grow up between the cracks in the sidewalk if it gets a chance. The birds always find a place to set themselves up. Scavenging mammals find what they want. And dandelions. Always dandelions.
It's night now, and the mist is so thick I can hardly see the carport across the street. Peace.