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(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

All this dog walking we’ve been doing lately is a great way to slow down and really see the neighborhood where we live. When my daughter and I first started walking our little pack of three, her puppy, Patches, garnered much of our attention. Not sure how often I really noticed the surroundings. But now that he’s about to turn five months’ old, we’re all settling into routines. That leaves more time for us to pay attention to more than just the dogs.

We tend to amble around without a pattern, especially to keep the puppy from thinking he knows where we are going. Why should he be any different than we are? Even if we choose to walk the dogs to a specific place in order to complete an errand, we don’t often choose the same path. We set off on an “expotition”—in the words of Winnie the Pooh and friends.

I love living in an older neighborhood laid out in a grid. Every block as well as every house on that block is different. Not only that but properties range from very well kept-up to, well, not kept-up at all. That’s just the potluck of living in a town developed one house or a few at a time, mostly before most people thought about master planning communities. If you know anything about me, you know I think potluck=you take what you get—and that’s most often a good thing.

Each walk we take leads us to discover another house that surprises us in some way—a bold color combination, a unique original style, or a creative response to adding space to a home built before most homeowners expected more than 1,000 square feet to satisfy their needs. People can mock our town as a “hood” all they want, but some real jewels add sparkle to the neighborhoods, either in traditional ways or “would have never thought of that” ways.

Part of why walking around these spaces feels like home to me is because so many of my nearby streets remind me of the small town where I often explored streets on foot and/or wheels or the one where I did so with my cousins when I visited my grandparents. Those were streets where real people lived and where putting on airs and “keeping up with the Joneses” was the stuff of seeing who could get wet laundry out to dry on the line earliest and whose flowers and produce might do best at the county fair. These were not homes where people thought spending money in showy ways was clever, but rather that thrifty living and taking a creative—and wise—approach to making do was how the clever amongst them had survived the Great Depression.

Most people who live in the homes in my town either do not have the means to spend in big ways or still believe in the value of a dollar taught to us by previous generations. We choose to live here in this old school place with its old school values because we want to do so—even if that means putting up with not everything around us being just so.

And during these now-hot days of August, I especially appreciate the opportunity to drink in the kind of growth that comes from my neighbors’ diligent attention to tending their colorful flowers. At the same time, I also notice the kind of growth that comes from ignoring weeds—something that will eventually be handled through encounters with city code enforcement officials.

Potluck—that’s what we get here, without the tightly held parameters of HOA control and without the sameness of master planning. These daily walks of late remind me just how much the ordinary as well as extraordinary that surrounds me and my humble abode satisfies my hunger for beauty. Not every dish is pleasing, but the overwhelming bounty and variety at the table provide just the sustenance I need to fill me up.

I’m so in each moment these days that it feels a little bit unnerving. All those thoughts that usually overrun my head have gone a bit silent. Even with all the divisive news of recent weeks, I have my strong opinions but not so much that I have big words I can follow down the rabbit holes. Don’t know whether to try to stir up my thoughts on my own or to take this fallow period as a time of rest and underground growth.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert


So my moments are often filled with activities such as dog walks—lots of dog walks since our daughter got her puppy about five weeks ago. Of course, if we’re available when she is walking her puppy, we ought to walk our own dogs, right? Walk we do—this street and that street—serpentine if you will to keep that puppy from thinking he’s in charge and knows where we are going. I see raindrops on blooms, flowers gone bold in this oddly wet growing season, new paint colors on houses, as well as nighttime light from porches and the bluish glow coming from large screens inside.

What is different about those walks from when we walked our dogs before is that we no longer walk in partial anonymity. The puppy draws attention to our little group—despite having lived in our neighborhood for decades, we are meeting people old and new as never before. Perhaps the constant human connection and conversations ground me more into the here and now than previously when I so often could escape into my head?

Beyond walking dogs, most days we also visit my husband’s mother as she rehabilitates from a fracture that led to a partial hip replacement. The puppy comes, too—with or without our daughter—since he is one of the few bright spots in the sameness of my mother-in-law’s days where she is a little too in the moment. The little superstar works her into thinking about what’s good about being able to sit still with a puppy at your side. And on his way in and out of the residence, he brings smiles to staff, other residents, and visitors alike. Although he is an amateur at therapy, he is an expert at causing people to pause.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Life is change—whether it’s a daughter finishing college and trying to find her way or a long-lived person encountering a body that no longer does as she bids or a society debating whether or not to keep traditions. Maybe at times of great change what we most need is a pause.

Although my mind is not much used to pausing, perhaps this little break is just what it needs to figure out what comes next. What better than a puppy (and its paws) to make play from a pause button?

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

Gold is the color around here right now but it’s absolutely free for the viewing. These are usually the best days of October in my neighborhood but I am often stunned by these glimpses of beauty. Photos cannot do these golden days justice—or at least with the skills and camera that my husband Sherman and I possess. The intense, low sunshine softens the captured images with a glare beyond even that seen by our own eyes.

Colorado may not have the range of fall colors that explodes in wetter climates but against the backdrop of a robin’s egg blue sky and snow-tipped mountains, the gold glows. Even the native grasses briefly turn from their mostly monochromatic schemes to shimmer in variegated glory.

This year, however, we really have had moisture throughout most of the growing season and even during many of the fallow times. The season’s usual colors in this year are set against grasses that remain green through no human intervention. The wow factor surprises me again and again.

Though the weather forecast calls for no frost in our near future and though we have protected our hanging plants indoors when temperatures have dropped low, it is too late in the season to play that guessing game nightly with the plants we plan to overwinter at Sherman’s office. Reluctantly I prepared those beauties for the annual trip to the office last week before we both carried that burgeoning jungle of greenery and bold blooms into the space with wide southern and western windows our house cannot duplicate.

Even those plants that relied so much on my hand watering, due to hanging in locations that only provide minimal rain access, are so much the happier for the rains that increased the moisture in the air. Humidity—what a concept around here. No, my plants have never had a better season with appropriate temperatures, increased rainfall, higher humidity, and just plain luck from avoiding the worst of the hail that often devastated neighborhoods all around our yard. Our little micro-ecosystem thrived this year with so little effort from me.

I may miss my hanging flower pots, but the delights outside my door remain too glorious for me to mourn their absence too much yet. On yesterday’s drive home from church, all those colors in the established neighborhoods told me I had to get out to see what Mother Nature was offering in her natural neighborhoods—and quickly before those fleeting moments of golden flashiness disappeared.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

We took off to one of our favorite fall spots—a location that one day soon will be flooded to provide more reliable access to water for the residents of man-made neighborhoods, especially since most years here are nothing like this year of falling rains, green growth, and flowing waterways.

I’m not sure why there aren’t more songs about beautiful afternoons. Of course, the dawning of morning is such a metaphor for new beginnings and growth, but joy may also come in the afternoon. I know it did for me—and so, while walking one golden afternoon with my husband and dogs next to a river still wild enough to be dammed by beavers and not yet by engineers, I burst out in song.

“Who will buy this wonderful (afternoon)? Such a sky you never did see. Who will tie it up with a ribbon and put it in a box for me?” (All apologies to Oliver!—and anyone who really does have a clear, soprano voice!)

But you see, all that gold does not glitter—it was free for the viewing, but not for the taking. The only ribbon there is is the one that binds October’s shimmering golden dance into my memory to keep me until she returns again—next year.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

And, thus, I’m mostly leaving you with pictures. Well, other than of relaxing activities such as my delicious nap today and my soak in the tub—I will spare you those images. Thank goodness for small favors, right?

Christiana petting giraffes on our trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Christiana petting giraffes on our trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Running.

Running.

Road trips.

Road trips.

Reading.

Reading.

Singing in church.  (c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Singing in church.
(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Walking dogs.

Walking dogs.

Now, off to grab 40 winks–or more.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert Forsythia delayed by spring snows and cold.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert
Forsythia delayed by spring snows and cold.

You never know what to expect around here from year to year—especially in the spring. Last year we were about four weeks or more ahead of schedule—this year, we’re behind. I’d like to get excited about the fact the nurseries are holding sales to get rid of some of their inventory, but I’ve nowhere to put the flowers either!

This wet, cool weather does remind me, though, of May two years ago. I had such big plans for getting out and about with my new puppy and new rescue dog. And, got out I did because I didn’t want my house torn apart! But the reality didn’t quite match my dreams.

In my dreams my back didn’t get hurt driving to pick up that puppy and the initial weather back home was actually nice much of the time.

But in my reality, I still had a lot of fun with my two pups, even if it meant taking them out into the cold rain while wearing my mother’s hand-me-down chartreuse slicker and walking much slower and for shorter distances than planned. There would be other sunny days and runs ahead of us, right? And, how much could I plant anyway if a puppy might come around and dig up my handiwork?

At least that’s what I believed before I knew how long I would have to wait for sunshine and growth.

Funny how the cold rains remind me both of what I don’t want to remember and what I most definitely do want to remember. That stormy May stripped away my assumptions about what I could do and not do for my health and forced me to slow down and stay close to home. In the quiet days when I grieved my active lifestyle, I gathered my dogs around me and learned to be still—with them.

My heart, riddled from loss—expected and unexpected, had developed holes, small and large. The only way to begin to patch or fill those holes was to give in to the pet therapy offered to me, even if that also meant walking outside in all kinds of weather when I really just wanted to stay in and wallow in my pain.

All those planned hikes and runs melted into slow walks, even when the rains disappeared, throughout the summer, into the fall, winter, and even into the next spring. Healing had its own timetable, but through it all I had my dogs. When I finally began to run again—almost a year and a half later—in order to re-develop a healthy form, I had to start doing so without the dogs at my side, but still hope to include them one day soon.

This week, our dog Sam’s hiking backpack arrived for all our planned hikes. And I need to buy a new pair of running shoes—because mine are worn out from running, not just from walking the dogs. Plus, when the weather finally settles down enough for me to plant flowers, I’m not so worried about my now-grown dog Furgus eating them.

Right now, as afternoon stretches toward evening and though creeks are overflowing, the sun is out and drying up many paths—at least those away from flood plains. Turns out, there’s still time to run before the next storm. And if the dogs are lucky, the weather will hold long enough for their walk, too! So often, dreams have their own timetables, too.

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