Friday, October 10, 2014

Smell the flowers by Annalisa Russo

My son has traveling down to a science, allowing himself just enough time to show up at the gate as they’re boarding. Of course, he travels constantly for work. On the other hand, I like to get to the airport two hours early to catch a meal and settle in with a book near the gate. I imagine when you travel all the time, you stop looking at what’s around you. It would be easy to forget what it is to see something for the first time.

I have a recent addition to my family, a precious toddler named Luci. When you take Luci for a walk, she MUST stop and smell each flower in her path. She wrinkles up her nose and sniffs. She sees EVERYTHING—the wing on a bird, the small moving dot of an airplane in the sky, a dog with his nose poked out between the slats of his backyard fence. She hears sounds I habitually block out—the dishwasher starting, a garbage truck rumbling down the street, the yawn of her cat stretching in the sun by the door. Luci has taught me a lesson.

During the summer, I take an early morning walk each day. It’s more of a power walk than a stroll.
Aren’t we all conscious these days of the benefits of daily exercise? After my first post-Luci walk of the summer, I realized, like the constant traveler, I wasn’t conscious anymore of my surroundings. I habitually looked down at the ground and plotted my next scene in my head for whatever story I was writing.

So, on my next walk, I slowed down and made a point of looking around at my surroundings. I noticed a few items I missed on previous walks: a robin fat with new life, words in sidewalk chalk on a driveway— This is how we roll— with a peace sign, a POW flag flying on a pole beneath an American flag. I passed that same house every day for years.
A lone tulip that survived our unusually brutal winter.

I don’t know why the tulip bothered me so much. It was on the property of an old man I noticed once or twice working in his yard—a beautiful yard kept pristine from the full attention of its owner. Now, I noticed a few weeds, a small broken branch dried and dangling from a tree, the pretty geraniums that always lined the driveway wilting from lack of water. I wondered if perhaps the man was ill. Before Luci, I would have raced by his house without a second thought, oblivious of the neglected yard. I sent up a prayer.

Thank you, Luci, my love, for making me slow down and see.

Annalisa Russo

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