May 8, 2013 by marieelia
This winter was just… terrible. Despite moving into a beautiful new apartment, with a clean bathroom that is *not* in the basement, something really dragged us down this time. Maybe it was that winter seemed to go on so much longer. Maybe it was that work stress has me at a breaking point. Maybe it’s because we really need a vacation. Whatever the cause of the rut, we were deep in it. Climbing out is hard.
Last week was the first full week of beautiful 75 degree days. Pittsburgh quickly turns into a swamp in the summer, so these spring days are ones to relish with urgency. I’ve finally gotten onto my bike again, despite a complicated park-and-ride situation necessary due to our new location. It’s a bit of a pain but worth it for the beautiful bike path, surprise tulips, river breeze.
But what I really love, and what I miss most of all in winter, is a good meander. I love walking. I love walking alone, making small decisions about where to go based on the seemingly most ridiculous criteria. My favorite part about my visit to Germany last year was the opportunity to meander for hours, getting “lost,” circling back, ending up somewhere new. A couple days ago, during my lunch break at work, I was sitting by the river with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but the wind was blowing enough that it was difficult to read. I had also just read my horoscope in the City Paper:
Pisces Horoscope for week of May 2, 2013: The French word flâneur is a meme that refers to a person who strolls around the city at a leisurely pace, exploring whatever captivates her imagination. To the casual observer, the flâneur may seem to be a lazy time-waster with nothing important to do. But she is in fact motivated by one of the noblest emotions—pure curiosity—and is engaged in a quest to attract novel experiences, arouse fresh insights, and seek new meaning. Sound fun? Well, congratulations, Pisces, because you have been selected as the Flaming Flâneur of the Zodiac for the next two weeks. Get out there and meander! I invite you to keep a running list of all the ways life delights you and helps you and energizes you. Describe everyday miracles you take for granted . . . the uncanny powers you possess . . . the small joys that occur so routinely you forget how much they mean to you . . . the steady flow of benefits bestowed on you by people you know and don’t know. What works for you? What makes you feel at home in the world?
… so I started walking. I’ve ridden my bike on the river path before, but I’d never walked it. Just a hundred feet east of where I have eaten lunch every warm day for four years, I found my new favorite place to go:
And surprise! Goslings:
There is the obvious physical benefit of a 15 minute walk during a mostly sedentary day, but the mental/emotional one is so intense. Wandering around, just looking, gives your brain a lovely break in focus. Or, it re-focuses it in a different way.
Our new neighborhood is bigger and includes a huge gorgeous park, which is perfect for meandering. On Sunday, the seven-day streak of beautiful days continued, which was especially welcome for the runners of the city marathon. I walked along the sidewalk full of cheering spectators, a high school steel drum band, a little girl in a ladybug costume carrying dandelions gone to seed-heads. I ran into three friends. Then I ducked out of the activity and into the park, following whichever way drew me in. I found a magical portal…
… and a tree made for sitting…
… and finally, as I just knew I would, I came across a lilac tree:
Lilacs are my favorite. I thought I was alone, so I walked up and breathed it in. A jogger passed me and said, “I’m glad I’m not the only one who does that!”
Last year I wrote about knowing what kind of tree you are. You have to know what feeds your soul or your brain or your sense of well-being. I don’t really take horoscopes seriously; I like to think of them like writing prompts, but, life prompts. I like to use them as another way to take stock of things. I was talking to a friend who shares my birthday (though a different year), and we talked about how, as a Pisces on the Aquarius cusp, the Aquarian level-headedness tempers what can otherwise be a flaky fish. Pisces are known for taking forever to make decisions. I think the Aquarius manifests in my tendency to use that time to gather data. I take a long time to make decisions, but I ingest a lot of information in the process. I’m also the one who will make a whole itinerary for a trip, only to throw it all out the window. I like to be prepared, and I like to just skip plans in favor of a good meandering.
I’ve also been making kombucha, but that story is for another time: