The last few days have been quintessentially July.
the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character
a property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is
from the Latin essentia, “be”
the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class
the aspect of something regarded as the intrinsic and central constituent of its character
a refined essence or extract of a substance
a fifth substance in addition to the four elements, (earth, water, air, fire,) thought to compose the heavenly bodies and to be latent in all things
from the Latin quinta essentia, “fifth essence”
I learned early that if I was out on my bicycle, I wasn’t expected to escort younger siblings and I could go beyond the walking boundaries set by my parents.
I bought my first ten-speed with money earned berry picking my sophomore year in high school. It was an orange Nishiki with tires so thin it was a wonder they hugged the pavement at all. I felt like I had a freedom pass to the world.
When I embarked on my first overnight bike trip to the San Juan Islands the following summer, the wing bumps on my back popped right out of my tee-shirt! It was a thrill to know I had everything I needed in my panniers. I wasn’t alone, but I wasn’t with grown-ups!
That bike was stolen my junior year in college and I felt truly robbed, not only of a possession but of my ability to escape. It had become a joyous habit of mine to roll about the tree-lined streets at dusk when curtains hadn’t yet been drawn. I could peek lovingly into homes, remember my own and yet feel happily distant from it at the same time. Once more I used summer earnings to buy a bicycle.
I am not a hardy rider anymore but it is a June ritual to pull my bike from the patio, dust off the cobwebs and ready it for summer riding. My mom told me to bring my bike out to her house some time. She wants to know if she can still ride one. My dad laughed, unable to imagine his 77-year-old wife hopping on a bike. I know my mom just wants to see if it’s true that one really can’t forget how to ride a bike. I’ll bring it out to her because despite her age I know she’ll get on it and ride 50 feet just to prove she can do it.
It isn’t the mechanics of riding that I fear will fade. I don’t want to forget the joy and triumph I felt to be a girl in the world, pedaling beyond the lip of my driveway, feeling independent and free to explore the side streets of life for the first time.
Half way around the second loop, my left leg was throbbing. We probably should’ve started with the longer and steeper loop. Faulty planning aside, I hadn’t anticipated struggling so much after only an hour. An hour!!
Six years ago I participated in a 60-mile fundraising walk for breast cancer and yet here I was, ready to call it a day, after only two miles of leisurely walking on a cushy dirt trail in the woods.
I’ve always enjoyed walking. But now, with bursitis flaring up in my left leg, I can only walk for about half an hour and anything uphill is a strain.
Benches have become welcome sights, and looking for photo opportunities helps me take it slow and rest my leg instead of pushing myself in unnecessary ways. I am going to have to develop a new attitude about walking – instead of focusing on pace and endurance, I will have to think about stamina and taking my time.
Photos taken on a walk in the Stimpson Family Reserve, Bellingham, WA, July 2011.
watershed: a crucial dividing point, line or factor
“Nah, nah, nah, I don’t want to hear that,” my 26 year old daughter wagged her finger at my son, aged 22, as we sat eating lunch at Subway. “You may feel that way about yourself but the first step you need to take to recovery is to not say that out loud, ever!”
My son had just finished sharing the events that led up to a break up with his girl friend of three years as well as the disturbing news that he was going to need to have a repeat of a surgery he had last year. He summed up his account with a statement about how his girl friend deserved better anyway and his life just seemed to be pretty “sucky” all the way around.
I hugged my daughter with tears in my eyes and whispered in her ear, “Please keep giving your brother advice!”
bittersweet: being at once bitter and sweet
especially: pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret
I stumbled upon her work in a garden shop in Seattle. The paintings on the notecards told stories and I wanted to know the stories, actually, I wanted to write the stories. They were stories I seemed to know in my heart. I didn’t buy a card at the time but a month later I went back to the store and bought the only card on the rack. I came home and began an internet search. I wanted to know this woman. I found out that she is close to my age and lives in the northwest, and I’m thoroughly enjoying exploring all her work.
Her name is Deborah Dewit Marchant. She is a photographer and artist. I’m sure she is more than that but I’ve only just begun to discover her. I bought the book she wrote called Traveling Light about her journey as a photographer. Her work is so atmospheric; it is amazing to me!
Looking at her photos has helped me realize how much I love to find texture when I’m taking pictures.
I’m excited by my new discovery – this artist in the world and the artist in me.
My sister contacted me in the spring and said, “If I come for an extra week, will you promise to entertain me?” She and her husband were planning to come up for a week in July but with a summer off, my sister had the time to come for an extended visit. But she was adamant about not sitting around my parent’s house with nothing to do. I promised to play tour guide; it would give me a chance to revisit places I hadn’t been in a while since most of my sight-seeing had been with my children.
Sia arrived the last weekend in June and our first long trip was to Stanley Park outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. My husband and I used to take the children there every year when the orca were in residence at the aquarium but when border traffic increased, we stopped going. Having my sister as navigator was helpful and we found that taking my adult son with his wheelchair became an additional advantage – good parking and half price admission!
Since that trip, we’ve gone on to visit Deception Pass on Whidbey Island, just down I-5 from home, and when her husband arrived this weekend, we took a nice walk on a trail down one side of Lake Whatcom. My sister and her husband are photo “phanatics”, with fancy cameras. I have a good camera and I enjoy taking pictures but I can’t get the exquisite detail that they capture. Knowing they will take a ton of pictures, I feel free to experiment and get arty with my pictures!
My sister and I are enjoying seeing the same sights through different lenses. Each evening we post our pictures. My parents are getting to armchair travel.