This morning, I took a walk. An easy couple of miles around the neighborhood to get some oxygen running through my brain and meditate on the hoof, admiring trees (the maple over on Lexington with its vast deep pool of shade, the enormous old willow dripping over the drainage ditch where kids practice breaking collarbones on skateboards) and nodding friendly good mornings to the others on my route, dogs and humans alike. I know all of them now. They ask about Jack in worried tones and I assure them he just needs a shorter walk these days.
I am a walker. I don’t do it because somebody tells me I need to, or that it will be good for my health. I just do, and have done since my grandmother took me with her on walks when I was four. We walked miles, often in the cool evenings, peering in suppertime windows, and ambling over to the drugstore for C-A-N-D-Y. When I’m tired, when I’m jet lagged, when I need to think, when I’m feeling restless, when I want to explore a new city, I head out for a walk. It’s just what I do, part of the bedrock of my nature.
Another thing I do is grow things. If there is six inches of bare soil, I’ll plant flowers in it. If there is an acre, I’ll plant more. I’ve been planting and growing since my mother gave me a tiny bed by the front porch of our new house when I was twelve and I planted bachelor buttons. Which grew. And flowered!
I also write, tell stories, which I’ve been doing since I was five and made up stories to sing because I didn’t yet know how to put words on the page. And I write because I fell in love with books before I can even remember. I have cats, and will always have a cat. Even when I ran away from a too-young marriage and lived in a wretched little apartment to punish myself, I coaxed a pair of feral kittens to come live with me. (I also love dogs, but they came a little later.) Although I’ve only recently taken up painting, I’ve been drawing and shooting photos for as along as I can remember, too–often of cats and flowers and windows into other worlds.
These things give you a picture of who I am, don’t they? What are some of yours? Can you come up with a list of the daily, ordinary things that make up the baseline of your personality?
Now move into the next layers—the sedimentary layer [Read more…]