Wednesday, August 12, 2015

C'est Moi, La Flaneuse

I went walking yesterday after Jeopardy ended. That means not only that I am incipient old fart but also that it was 7:30 pm before I got out the door. This time of year here in Vermont that means the light is going fast.

I almost didn't go because darkness was falling and because I'm lazy. As usual, however, my minimal exertion was richly repaid.  It was such a fine experience I thought about it again today, while I was out on another walk which was also nice but not so crowded with unexpected pleasures.  I thought I should go home and write about my nice walk last night for the record.

It's not much really so feel free to leave now if you are easily bored.

More on this is a minute...

Still here? Here's how it went.

I walked down my driveway to the dirt road on which we live and from there onto the paved road which is only three houses away. The paved road is not heavily traveled so it is pleasant for walking.

The houses in our neighborhood are all different, having been added piecemeal over about the last 150 years. A derelict apple orchard was repurposed as building lots for several of them and the apple trees are still here, though not tended.  I grabbed a small sour apple as I passed the first house on the paved road and took two bites.  It was good but I didn't want to risk bowel trouble so I stopped there.  I then remembered a pledge I made to myself earlier this summer to pick some wild flowers and August tis the season for wildflowers. I wanted to pick them because this summer I bought (for one dollar at Goodwill) a little flower press.

Wildflowers, of course, grow in profusion on the roadside. I grabbed a few as a I passed, aiming for varied colors and shapes. I don't know the names of the things I picked.  There were some little daisy-like things, a purplish number that I believe might be a cornflower, buttercups (I think, they were smaller than the buttercups I remember from childhood), and those orange bell-shaped flowers that grow on something like a small bush...  People of New England, you know what I mean.

I carried these as I walked toward the red barn that was my turn-around point.  When I got to the barn (actually just short of there as night was getting more serious), I turned and faced the mountains - well, significant hills - that make a wall at the end of this particular road, about two miles distant.

It had rained during the day and as dusk gathered there were pools and tatters of mist in half a dozen places on the dark green hillsides. Mists also swirled around the hilltops.  I hadn't noticed the mists til just that moment.  They were very beautiful and a lovely surprise.

The Japanese have a word for this - my kids give me grief about the fact that I say this, "The Japanese have a word..." every time I see such mists.  I can't remember their word. I will look it up later.

I listen to music while I walk.  I can't remember what was on, Squeeze, I think, when a jogger and her giant white dog came up behind me. I was picking another apple at that moment, thinking fine thoughts of our misty hills and trying to remember the Japanese word, when the dog woofed. Having been caught picking an apple (they are wild, but still) I started. I took a bite and, finding it corrupted, threw it out and had no courage to pick another with a witness.

The jogger was a fellow fattie, though much younger than me. She gave me a kind, rather embarrassed smile as she wobbled by.  The dog - who hadn't scared me a bit really, he was clearly a gentle giant - was on a leash. As they passed, the dog kept looking back at me, slowing his owner.

After the jogger had gotten about twenty yards ahead of me, the dog just sat down in the middle of the road as if to say. "I've had enough of this f---ery. Why aren't we on the couch where we belong? I want to stay with that apple picking broad."  The jogger, embarrassed, patted the dog's head. She then gave him a stiff pull on the leash and started jogging again. He was defeated and trotted along behind her like a furry ball and chain.

To her credit, the runner kept at it til she was out of sight. It was uphill so I was impressed.  No doubt she waited to go jogging until the road was likely clear of observers and, then, damn, there I was.

I walked past the old barn that comes up just before our dirt road. It is weathered and brown but has a shiny new tin roof.  It is a barn for a Vermont Life photo shoot.  I felt I cut a romantic figure, walking past it with my bunch of wild flowers in my hand.

I put the flowers in the press as soon as I got back into our dining room. I felt sort of bad about pressing them - something so 'pit and the pendulum' about tightening the screws.  I'll take a picture when they're done in two weeks. I will want to remember this.