Christmas has come to Bellingham!
The rain was pouring from the sky in my part of the world. I mean… we’re talking a deluge here. And what did I choose to do? Yeah. It seemed the perfect time for a nice little hike around Lake Padden.
I took to asking this question of everyone I passed on the trail: “Are we crazy?!” I shall provide the answers to my question below:
“Are we crazy?!” I asked the young man who was deep in thought – a somber expression on his face. At my question his face was transformed by a happy grin. “It’s a lovely day,” he said, and in my mind I heard him say in a drawling British accent, “A lovely day for a stroll.”
“Are we crazy?!” I asked what looked to be a mom and her teen-aged son who were just finishing a jog. She smiled and said, “I feel so much better now!”
“Are we crazy?!” I asked the youngish couple as they passed. They laughed, and the woman said, “Yes! Isn’t it awesome?!”
“Are we crazy?!” I asked the young woman walking by me like she was on a mission from God. The serious look on her face changed into a grin, and she said, “Yes!” and then, “No, actually!”
“What do you think? Are we crazy?!” I asked the man approaching me with his dog. He looked down at his jeans and said, “I was just thinking… my jeans are dripping into my boots…” and then he shrugged, and said, “Well… it’s the Northwest…” and smiling, continued on his way.
And I realized that today I found “my people” at Lake Padden. Are we crazy? Probably. But what a wonderful time we had on this rainy day in the Pacific Northwest.
I had a wonderful morning in Bellingham. The sun was shining, the birds were chattering in the trees, and there was that briny smell coming off the bay that always makes me feel like I’m some care-free tourist on vacation.
I started my walk off at Tony’s Coffee Shop in Fairhaven – picked up a mocha and headed towards the boardwalk. As I was crossing the crosswalk to take me to the trail I almost got run over. The car started to accelerate as it it came towards me – the driver screeched to a stop a couple feet from me – I realized I had my hand out – I think I was getting ready to push myself onto her hood. The driver – a young woman – said the sun was in her face and she didn’t see me – but she saw my coffee cup from Tony’s. She was really shaken up and apologizing. I reached in and put my arm around her shoulders and told her I was glad she had quick reactions. “You did good, Grasshopper,” I said. We both laughed. Sometimes we meet nice people in unexpected and odd ways. I am feeling really grateful.
When I got to Boulevard Park I decided to continue on the trail to downtown Bellingham and check out the Farmers Market. There were lots of piles of leaves on the side of the trail to swish through on my way there – and you’ve got to swish through the piles of leaves, right?
The Farmers Market had all my favorite farmers market stuff – tables piled with veggies and fruits and home-made honey; musicians musicianing; colorful people; and good will to man and womankind.
On my way back I found myself walking behind three generations of a family – they were all putting their arms around each others’ shoulders and talking and laughing together. None of them were on cellphones. They were totally connected to each other. It made me happy. I snapped a couple pictures and then caught up to them and told them what I’d done and asked them if it would be alright – if the pictures turned out – if I posted them on my blog. They said sure and smiled, nodded their heads, and introduced themselves. There were two aunts, their niece, the niece’s love-friend, and the niece’s children. The aunts were out visiting from Colorado (Denver and Boulder). I brought up the pictures I’d snapped on my phone to show them and get their approval, and as they came together to look at the pictures, I liked the way all their feet made a circle of shoes – so, of course I had to snap a picture of THAT. Then they told me I should include my own feet in their circle – which… okay, I have a couple black toes from a hike I took on Mount Rainier last summer (my toes kept smashing into the front of my boots)… but… what the heck, right? So I joined the circle of feet and snapped a photo.
Everyone waves in Bellingham. Pedestrians wave when you stop so they can cross the street. Drivers wave when you stop so they can pull out of a parking space. Drivers wave to PEDESTRIANS when they’re crossing in front of them. It is very cool.
Yesterday I drove up to Bellingham after school because I really needed some friendly waves. I also wanted to see how autumn was unfolding up there, and maybe check out what people in Boulevard Park were up to on that fine and sunny day. Here’s some of what I found…
Took me up to Bellingham this morning. As I was walking down the ramp to Taylor Dock I turned to the woman walking UP the ramp and said, “Isn’t it amazing today?! Did you see the snow geese flying overhead?!” She said that she was from California and didn’t know what snow geese looked like – so I shared with her what I know about snow geese – how they fly south from Alaska and hang out in the Skagit Valley during the winter. Then we talked a bit about the birds in California – I told her about a trip I’d taken the year before to San Diego and all the cool birds I’d seen down there. She shared that she was leaving to go back to California today – she’d been up here to watch her musician-friend perform on the viola this weekend. She’d enjoyed her time up here very much. We exchanged hand shakes and introduced ourselves – she told me her name was Claudia.
As I was walking down the boardwalk to Boulevard Park this dog came jogging up the boardwalk and sort of trotted next to me for a bit. I stopped and held my hand out and he nudged it with his nose and smiled at me. His human called to him and he immediately turned around at the command. I watched his human command the dog with his hand – go forward, go left, come here – and the dog quickly did everything he was asked to do. I was hugely impressed by this, and talked to his human for awhile about how amazing his dog was. His human agreed. He told me the dog’s name was Skyler, and that he was a rescue dog. I asked him if he’d taught Skyler all those commands, and he said he used to think so, but now he thinks Skyler came to him already knowing these things. Skyler let me take his picture and then he and his human continued on their day’s adventures.
On my way home I took back roads arched in golden-leafed branches and impulsively turned off at the boat launch on Samish Lake. There I met Dan and Matthew, who were working as aquatic invasive species inspectors. I asked if they were marine biologists, and Matthew said no, they’d majored in political science. I said I’d majored in History – and we talked for a bit about things that political science and history majors talk about. They let me snap a quick picture of them before I headed back to the roads that would bring me home…