I Collected Smiles Today
Walked my walk on the boardwalk. Before I drove home, I thought I’d check with the youngest son and his wife and see if there was anything I could bring them. The answer: A fruit smoothie.
I drove to the juicer place (Refresh Juice) on Cornwall, but it wasn’t open, yet, so I walked to the vegan bakery down the street (Wild Oat Bakery and Cafe) to see what I might find there. And I found all kinds of fun there. I ended up buying a slice of banana nut bread for the son and a cupcake for myself and had a cheery conversation with Nolan who was manning the counter.
I left with my loot and saw a young man with a sleeping bag. I thought he probably needed the cupcake more than me and offered it to him. He happily accepted it.
Then a young woman in a sleeping bag called out a hello to me. I asked her if there was something I could get her and she said a bag of chips. “Just chips?” I asked. “Could I get you something from the bakery?” She said that would be great.
So I went back to Nolan and explained my situation. Nolan started grinning when I told him I’d given away my cupcake. “Spreading the love!” he said. I told him it had started with his kind smile. I bought a scone for the woman and a cookie for myself and told Nolan he might be seeing me again in a few minutes. He started cracking up.
I brought the scone to the woman and went to the juice store. It wasn’t open, yet, but I thought I’d just work on my word puzzles while I waited. The juice shop ended up opening five minutes early and I was the first customer. Teagan and Kristen were fun and efficient and quickly presented me with the smoothie for my son and friendly smiles to take with me. They let me take their photo.
Now I went back to Nolan and asked him if I could take his picture, too. He graciously agreed. I announced to all my fellow patrons that Bellingham is full of the nicest people and, on that note, made my exit.
I stopped by the sock shop (Crazy Socks) on my way back to my car – I wanted to get some socks for my daughter-in-law. Reed was working the counter there and quickly helped me find some cat socks and a pair of otter socks, too. And, of course, I had to take a picture of Reed.
Socks, banana bread, and smoothie were successfully delivered to the son and daughter-in-law, and I brought home all the smiles I’d collected for myself.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell
Bellingham: The Day After Christmas
Here are some photos from my walk in Bellingham, Washington, this morning. Winds last night and flooding made Bellingham look like the morning after a big party…
“Good Mornings” All Around
Monday mornings in Bellingham rock!
Normally I park a block further down the hill, but this time I found myself pulling into a spot in front of Tony’s Coffee Shop – which, I just learned today, is actually now called “Old Independent Coffee House.” I ordered a mocha from the cheery barista, Maddie, and found out that my old Tony’s card was filled up and today was my day for a free coffee! I thanked Maddie, stuck a tip into the jar, and a couple minutes later she gave me a beautiful work of swirly barista-art. I had to take a photo, of course. As I headed out the door, Maddie yelled across to me, “Have a great day!” And I wished her the same.
Before I even got to the boardwalk, I met two poodles who reminded me of the standard-sized poodle my mom had when I was a little girl. Seeing those poodles brought back a flood of happy memories. I asked the poodles’ humans what their names were and was told they were “Maggie” and “Stella.” I did that Marlon Brando “STE-E-ELLA” thing and their human mom said, “Actually, it’s Maggie that gets yelled at the most.”
I said, “There’s always that one, rightl?”
Maggie and Stella’s parents laughed and agreed and we wished each other a good day.
Yesterday I finally learned the names of a couple I’ve been exchanging smiles with for a few years: Shiva and Jim. And today I saw them again and said, “Shiva and Jim, right?”
They smiled back at me and Shiva said, “That’s right! Good job, Karen!” She remembered my name, too!
I passed another familiar face on the boardwalk and he greeted me with a “Good morning!” I returned the greeting just as another man was passing between us, coming my direction – he looked confused for a moment – wondering if I’d been greeting him or… and he looked behind him and realized I’d been talking to the other man – but I said, “And to you, too!” And he smiled and wished me a good morning and then he and the other man wished each other a good morning and it was “good mornings” all the way around.
As I was returning on the boardwalk, I passed a young couple and then pulled over to take a photo and they passed ME. I said, “We’re going to be passing each other back and forth for the next little while because we’re going the same pace, and it might be a little awkward, but it’ll be alright…” The couple started laughing, understanding, and, sure enough I soon passed them again.
We all met up again when we got to the top of the boardwalk. They asked how far it was to downtown Fairhaven and I told them they were almost there. “Ten minutes?” the man asked and I told him two minutes. I learned, then, that their names were Shaun and Dori and that they were visiting from Tsawwassen, British Columbia. They planned on having a meal in Fairhaven and visiting Village Books.
“It’s so good to see Canadians here again! Thank you for visiting the States!” I said. They laughed and we all wished each other a good day.
Just as I’d almost made it back to my car I saw Maddie, the barista who’d made me my mocha with the art on top, walking her dog. It seemed perfect to see Maddie at the beginning and the end. We smiled at each other and stopped to chat and , of course, in keeping with the theme of the morning, wished each other a great day.
Artists and Pups, a Schooner, and a Cat
Magic! Ran into artist Lanny Little today, re-touching his visage in the Fairhaven community in Bellingham. I love this man. I told him I was so unhappy when they covered him up with an outhouse for a few months. – but that I found if I snuck to the left and peeked behind it I could see him smiling back at me and when I went to the right and peeked, he was still looking at me and smiling back. He laughed with me about this. We’re both glad the outhouse is gone now…
Here’s Hyas the Cat with her human, Kieth, in Boulevard Park.
And here’s Peter Malarkey from Port Angeles, renovating the mural in Boulevard Park.
And a schooner!
Gifts from an Early Morning Walk
I slipped out of the house early on Sunday to give myself a quick walk on the Bellingham boardwalk – I wanted to go on my walk before the streets got busy; finding a parking space became a challenge; and the temperature became uncomfortable. I have found, on my Bellingham walks, that the early morning holds a peace and special beauty.
It was quiet and the boardwalk was mostly empty when I started my walk just before 8:00. But as I got closer to Boulevard Park I started seeing more people, and more pups, too. And this is when I met Wally, and his human, Beth. Wally was special – I recognized that immediately. An older gent of a dog, he made his slow way across the boardwalk to greet me and to let me pet him. My heart melted. I asked Beth to tell me about Wally – what was Wally’s story? She told me that her husband had found Wally when he’d been out on a snowmobile ride near Yakima ten years ago. Wally had been young then – maybe two – and he was starving and abandoned and eating from a deer carcass when her husband came upon him. Wally was in a bad way. Her husband brought him home where he and Beth nursed Wally back to health. When Wally was well again, her husband said it was probably time to find him a home. To which Beth replied, “I think he already has one.”
As Beth told his story, Wally – who Beth said was part beagle and part pitbull – let me scratch him behind the ears and pet him. I was filled with gratitude that Beth’s husband had found Wally and that Life had brought Wally to a home with good people who loved him.
As I was talking to Beth, another dog and his humans approached from the other end of the boardwalk, and this is when I met dapper little Hans. Hans and Wally quickly got acquainted in the fashion of dogs and I snapped both their photos.
After Hans and his humans left, a man coming from the direction of the park with a coffee cup in his hand, cheerily greeted Beth like they were old friends. He said everyone knows Beth and Wally and joined us for a friendly chat. The man introduced himself as “Cash” and we talked for a bit about his name. He said “Cash” was his middle name and that his first name was actually “Petty.” Beth immediately started cracking up. I’m embarrassed to admit it took me an extra second to put “Petty” and “Cash” together and realize that Cash was having fun with his name. I introduced myself as “Karen” then and we had some fun with MY name for a while, too.
After chatting a bit more with these fine people, and giving Wally one last pet, I continued on my walk to the other end of the park. As I was coming back from the far end, I saw a photographer had taken up position on the beach and was taking pictures of a woman doing yoga poses. I looked at the photographer, who was holding a position that demanded some strength and balance, and thought, “There’s an athlete!” – and then I stopped short. Her face had the exact same profile as a friend I’d worked with forty years ago on Mount Rainier. I knew my friend’s daughter, Freya, was a photographer now in Bellingham, and that she was also, by a wonderful coincidence, the partner of the son of one of my Dad’s old climbing buddies, Jim Whittaker. I don’t think I’d seen Freya since she was a baby – more than thirty years ago – but I suddenly just knew that I was looking at a grown-up Freya now. “Is this Freya?!” I asked. And she looked up at me and smiled her mother’s smile and confirmed her identity. WHOAH. I quickly introduced myself as “Dee Molenaar‘s daughter” and her mother’s old friend from Rainier. I told her she looked just like her mom – that that’s how I’d recognized her. Freya laughed and smiled and graciously let me snap a quick picture of her before she got back to work.
Running into Freya in the park was cosmic, my friends – a wonderful gift and reminder of the connections we all share with each other.
As I was leaving the park and heading back on the boardwalk I heard someone yell, “Karen!” I looked ahead of me, I looked behind me, I looked up in the trees (because I would not be surprised to find my friends hanging out in trees), and finally saw my friend and former teaching colleague, Elizabeth, waving her arms from the park. I hurried back to the park to give my friend a hug. It was good to see Elizabeth again – another gift on my early morning walk.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell
Some Way Cool Pups on a Day in Spring
Two walks today – Bellingham boardwalk and Lake Padden – felt so good to stretch my legs and immerse myself in spring. Met some way cool dogs and their humans on my walks. There’s Gloria sitting on a rock along Bellingham Bay with her pup, Nala. And there are Oliver and Chip on a walk with their humans around Lake Padden (not pictured with Oliver and Chip are their pup buddies, Cooper and Koda.)
Mother’s Day in Bellingham
A young man appeared in the Village Green carrying a large bouquet of flowers. “Are those for your mom?” I asked. He smiled and confirmed that they were. “You are a wonderful son!” I said. “Can I take your picture?” And the young man – I learned his name was Christian – obliged and smiled for my camera. He said he was going to treat his mom to brunch at the Colophon Cafe, which, coincidentally, was where my family was going to celebrate Mother’s Day with me.
After brunch my sons and their wives (my new daughters!) and my husband joined me on a quick walk to look out over Bellingham Bay. We had a break in the rain and the sun was shining and everyone was smiling and cheerful. A trio of women walked past – one of them pregnant – and I said, “I hope they’re all celebrating YOU today!” The three women (Maril, Jemia, and Ashley) laughed and I learned that they represented three generations – four, if you counted the little life in the pregnant woman. I asked if I could take their picture, and they smiled and gave me permission to photograph them – first, with one of their cameras, and then with mine.
Meet Patrick and Amy, Bicyclists Extraordinaire
I ran into these two very cool people at Sisters Espresso. Patrick and Amy are on different bike-riding adventures, and just happened to show up at Sisters Espresso at the same time. Patrick is riding his bike home to Blaine after riding it to Arizona, and Amy is riding from Lopez Island to Yellowstone in Wyoming. Patrick says his next bike trip will take him across country to Maine.
100 Photos to Celebrate Earth Day
All photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.