Mixing routines

We have a neighbor whose mother has a greenhouse. We walk by their home on days when we walk to the beach from our house and have chatted with them several times. Each spring they hold a sale of plants that have been started from seed and raised in the greenhouse. Last year we got some plants from the sale. The tomatoes did especially well and so we were looking forward to their sale and spoke with them about it. Since we are acquainted, they arranged for us to purchase some plants in advance of the sale. We also got a few plants from the annual sale held by the Whatcom County Master Gardeners, but we got to that sale late this year and they didn’t have many flowers. So yesterday, when our neighbors had their plant sale, we stopped by to pick up the remainder of the bedding plants we wanted to get in the ground. While we looked through the plants, we talked with our neighbors. They said they were glad to see us. We hadn’t walked by their place for a couple of days and they were worried about us because we are regular walkers.

We hadn’t given it a thought. It had been just a couple of days. One day we walked at Hovender Farm, a county park with a variety of trails. It was convenient because we had gone to town to do a bit of banking business and so we decided to walk through the wetlands at the park. Yesterday, we walked the berm, a trail that goes a little more than a mile along the beach in Birch Bay Village. We decided to walk there because we wanted a walk that was a bit longer than our usual jaunt to the beach and back. Now that the weather is good and we are moving towards summer programming at the church we have a bit more time to walk and we enjoy taking walks that are a bit longer. I’m sure that we will walk in a variety of different places in the weeks to come as there are so many wonderful and varied trails around here. We love walking to the beach, but we also enjoy trails that take us through heritage forests and through wetlands and other terrain.

I was a bit surprised that our neighbors had missed us when we didn’t walk by their house for a couple of days. I guess that we have fallen into the habit of walking the same route most days because it is familiar and convenient. I guess we’ve become a couple of old folks who are set in our ways so much that we are a bit of a neighborhood fixture. That isn’t the worst thing. While I don’t want to get stuck in a rut and I enjoy mixing things up, it is good to know and be known by our neighbors.

Because we walk by their place often and because they have a lovely yard and garden and are frequently outside tending them, we have gotten to know them a bit. We know their names and they know ours. We know that a mother and her son live in our neighborhood and that the woman’s mother lives and has a greenhouse nearby. We know that they work from home for an import company with headquarters in North Dakota. We have shared a few stories about North Dakota winters that interest them because they have been in that state in the winter before and know that we aren’t exaggerating when we talk of -30 temperatures.

Whether we are walking our usual route to the beach and back or taking a stroll in another location, there are always new things to see. The Canadian geese have hatched their chicks and the chicks are getting bigger. Geese can walk and swim shortly after hatching, but, like other birds, it takes them a while to learn to fly. The chicks are getting their feathers, but haven’t learned to fly yet, so there is a bit of a scramble for them to waddle away from us when we walk by. Of course we are no threat to them, but they don’t know that for sure and instinct leads them to want to keep distance between us and them. Unlike our human neighbors, they haven’t gotten used to us walking by their home.

In the wetlands, the lilies are blooming. the water lilies have enormous leaves and produce giant blossoms, quite different from what we see on ponds in the midwest. There is a small lake at the county park that is open in the winter, but becomes so full of lilies in the summer that it almost looks like it is solid ground. Of course if you stepped out into it, you’d be up to your waist in water and surrounded by lilies. There are places where canoes are allowed, but it isn’t very inviting for paddling because of all of the thick vegetation. But the lake full of yellow blossoms is an amazing sight and we like to wander on the boardwalk that takes us by the shore and look across the lake at the vista of snow-capped mountains to the East.

We have also come to be big fans of sunsets. The days are getting very long around here. It is one of the things about living so far north. Our summer days are long and our winter days are short. Adding in the change from standard time to daylight savings time and back makes the difference seem even greater. It isn’t fully dark until a bit after ten these days. It interests me that one of my reactions to the change is that I stay up a bit later. Like a farmer, I sleep a bit less in the summer. The sunlight streaming into our bedroom coaxes me from sleep around 5 am these days and I find lots to do in the evenings as well. I don’t feel like I’m stuck in a routine, but change with the seasons.

Our neighbors, however, are used to our routines and notice when we mix things up. It’s good to know there are folks who notice.

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