In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Monday, August 22, 2011

Neighborhood Watch

This morning I decided to fore go the trip to the gym's treadmill and "tread" around my own neighborhood.  Last fall I measured a one mile loop through town, and walked it four times a week before I joined the gym.  Feeling nostalgic, without giving it anymore thought, I dressed for the walk. Slipping into my outdoor walking shoes for the first time in 3 months felt wonderfully familiar.  My toes quickly found their home and the frayed cuffs around the ankle reminded me of those winter walks in harsh weather.  Somehow it felt like putting on gloves more than shoes.

This September marks my first year in Bellingham.  It's been interesting to see how the area changes in each season.  Bellingham is a beautiful town.  I've enjoyed many wonderful scenes, fine enough to be painted on a dinner plate.  The weather and seasons clothing the landscape in each pattern that defines them.

I saw the town bathed in fall leaves, branches and trees blown into the street from winter storms, sidewalks caked with rippled frozen slush, puddles of water rushing into the drains from springs thaw.  The crocus are the first flower of the year marking the end of winter; brings hope to me every time I notice their purple petals.  Then the tulips show up, two months later, marking the edges of flower beds.  They stand so fancy as if saying "We bring the spring"; too much power for a flower.  I prefer the statement of the humbled crocus.  They surprise you popping up where they do, breaking through the snow under a tree line, around the steps, or snug beneath a rhododendron, staying for only 2 weeks, then away they go back into the ground.

Slowly over the course of the three summer months, homeowners start to make their way into their yards.   I can hear the sounds of lawn mowers, shovels hitting the dirt, and lawn-edgers as they grind in that crack between the grass and walkway.

This morning in August, my final month to view, proved good hunting in the area of natural events.  A summer storm is forming in the northwest corner of the sky, the dark clouds growing slowly.  I wonder if I should of brought a jacket?  Warm temperatures have the maple trees raining sticky sap onto the roads and sidewalks.  So thick in some spots my shoes make sticking sounds as I cross over them.  The sap leaves a mark like a raindrop tattoo on the cement.  Oh and the spiders are out!  Those common garden orb-weaving spiders are all over the place, constructing their webs across the walk ways, on the bushes and windows, any place their silk will stick too.  August is proving to be a sticky month!

The bees are also in full swing.  Saw two honey bees at different corners, walking.  A bee taking a walk?  I wondered if it was doing that honey dance they do to communicate to the other bees the direction and distance to the nearest nectar.  There were no other bees to be seen near the dancing ones.  Perhaps these two were young bees practicing their dance moves.  Good thing to practice, you wouldn't want to shake when you should have wiggled causing your friends to fly in the wrong direction- a place of no nectar.  No nectar...  an office building or perhaps a freeway full of violent windshield related bee deaths?  Practice little bee, practice.  I'll walk around you and let you practice. Spiders, bees, summer flowers making their final showing- all wonderful sights.

Taking the last steps of my walk up to the back door, I feel a little bead of sweat on the side of my forehead.  That is proof positive of a successful walk.  I sit and think on what I've seen as I pour myself some coffee.  Looking out the dinning room window, I notice it starting to rain.  ...perfect timing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vicarious Vacation

A year ago I was on my island enjoying the salty air.  Here's a blog of mine from summer 2010.  Wishing you all a good vacation season! ~Shannon

The phrase “summer job” leads most people to picture a student making pizzas or serving burgers during the long three months off from school. If you live on an island it has a completely different meaning to a whole other demographic. A summer job(s) here is what the working class or retired folks do to make some extra money. Storing up cash for the economically slow months riddled with higher heating bills and expensive gift giving holidays, people in small tourist towns act much like ants gathering up food for the long winter. Jumping on an opportunity to help a friend with their tree pruning business, or ironing sheets for the Bed n’ Breakfast down the street are good ways to supplement your income. Being opportunistic is apart of island living.

Since I’ve moved to the island I have been fortunate to have summer job(s) that fill the week. I say fortunate because since the winter of 2008 one out of ten people in Washington State are unemployed. This summer I’m averaging 90 hours a paycheck and as expected, I find it difficult to do anything BUT work.

Writing has been pushed to the side, so has cleaning the house, and appointments are being moved into September. Instead of working on articles or my book, I am writing only poetry. My poetry however has not been of posting quality, but rewarding just the same. I write about how much my body aches, the way the sun shines through the trees, and about how angry I was at the moon; the crazy ramblings of an overworked woman to be sure. I DO think about my story lines, usually in the morning. Something will set it off. I’ll see an object or hear a phrase that ignites my imagination; it’s another refreshing creative escape, even if it only last a couple of minutes or so.

Until September rolls around I’ll just live my vacation vicariously through the other tourist. As I shuttle around the grounds of the resort where I work I pass and interact with all types of tourist. Three skinny boys in their tweens, bundled up in towels, dripping wet returning from a long swim in the lake. Seemingly numb to walking barefoot on gravel road, their only focus being “What’s next?” Planning up all sorts of things to do, see and eat. My feet hurt watching them walk on the gravel, but their excitement was contagious. Another day a sleepy couple, still in their flannels, come in for coffee and share with me about their wonderful yesterday of sight seeing, the super pod of Orcas off shore, the kayaking, the hike. Just listening about their day tired me out! What a day!

Later that week I met up with a friend for coffee. She was as exhausted as I was but from friends and family visiting her. In one months time she had five visits, each time taking folks around the island, cooking, cleaning, and going out for dinner, seeing movies, then repeating it all over again with the next group. “It’s wears ya out having a good time” she joked. We both sat there exhausted and thankful for a peaceful cup and visit in a quiet house. I swear for a second our sighs were synchronized. We were rotationally at two different poles but, exhausted just the same.

Too much fun!