Once around the block

He is a whirling dervish dancing down the driveway, delighting in the monarch butterfly he chases. Up, up and away it goes. And then he turns to me with a big smile.

His mother is beaming, “It’s his first day of school,” she explains. “I mean, he’s only two-and-a-half but this is the first time he’ll be away with other kids for a couple of hours. He’s so excited.” Grandma and Grandpa, standing nearby, introduce themselves as they tend to bouncy boy’s baby brother—still a true baby.

As I smile and make small talk, my mind goes back in time. Two-and-a-half years ago, as winter waned in Chicago, I walked by this very house. Two small stork signs had been placed in the front yard, indicating that twins had been born. I smiled and then noticed the weight of each—one was barely over one pound and the other just under a pound. I said a silent prayer for these babies, born far too soon. Each day, as my dog and I walked by the house, I said another little prayer. The signs stayed up for a week or two until one day as I walked by, I saw only one sign. The larger twin’s sign still announced his birth. But the other sign had been removed.

I welled up a bit and said a prayer of a different kind. And my heart went out to this young couple, who for months had been steadily improving the fixer-upper they’d moved into.

The house was quiet for so long. There was none of the hustle and bustle a baby usually brings. I did not see either parent walking by with the baby in a stroller. It was just—well, quiet.

About a year ago, another sign went up in the yard—announcing another bouncing baby boy. This one was a healthy weight. And the house seemed to perk up. I saw toys in the yard, flowers in a pot on the stoop. I was happy for this family, even though I didn’t really know them.

So, as Bailey (my rescue dog) happily sniffed baby toes and Mom talked about how excited she was, I was smiling on the inside as well as on the outside. After every winter, a spring. We all should have that, in my book.

Bailey and I continue around the block, and I see a gaggle of elderly women marching like ants in a line. They’re heading to Kathy’s backyard. Kathy’s husband passed last year, and her house has been all too quiet during this pandemic. The grandkids aren’t traipsing in and out like they used to. But with vaccines comes hope—and activity.

These ladies, each carrying a lawn chair, head to her backyard for some socially distanced coffee and gabbing. I’m sure Kathy made treats. She is always making treats. And it looks as if these women called each other to ensure proper attire—they’re all in white clamdiggers, brightly colored shirts and tennis shoes. Their happy chatter carries and I hear snippets. “New doctor looks like he’s barely old enough to shave.” “. . . needs more discipline. Those kids run wild.” “Canasta. Tuesday nights.” Enjoy, ladies—especially while the weather lasts.

We return home and are hailed from the backyard. “Ms. Kristine! Hey, can I tell you something? Look! Look what I can do.” I glance to the yard near mine and see Miriam and her brothers (of previous candidkay notoriety) climbing and swinging and sliding—all the things we do as a kid that we’re sure no one else has ever done as well. And we simply must crow about it and be watched and applauded. I oohed and aahed and dutifully clapped. “Did you see we’re growing tomatoes, Ms. Kristine? How many red tomatoes do you have on your plant?” I counted three. “Ha!” she cackled. “We have seven. SEVEN. That’s a lot, right?” And the conversation went on, turning to astronauts, fossils and birthdays. Because, what else, right?

I share all the minutiae of my walk with Bailey here—why? Because life has been hard of late for many. We’re still fighting each other on the pandemic rules and vaccines. Here in the States, we’re fighting bounties offered to turn women in for making decisions about their own bodies. The news is filled with wildfires and variants and all sorts of things that will cause one to lose sleep.

But when I stay in the moment—this very moment—I can watch small boys chase butterflies, see families who have moved through huge grief smile again, and be kept on my ever-lovin’ gardening toes by a girl at least half my size. All delightful, in my book.

And all very necessary. Get out there, folks. Take a walk. Breathe. Sniff a few baby toes (that advice comes from Bailey, of course). We need to feel the good while we deal with the bad.

That’s life. And once around the block can do you a world of good.

61 Comments Add yours

  1. Anne Fraser @theplatinumline.blog says:

    I love your introduction to your block. Last year when our world shrank little things became important.

    1. candidkay says:

      Isn’t that the truth?! My neighborhood has been a wonderful place to be for years–but during the pandemic, I appreciated it all the more. Thanks for the virtual visit! Good to have you here.

  2. restlessjo says:

    Real life in all its many shades. You tell it beautifully.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you 😊. There’s a lot of beauty out there if we just slow down enough to find it.

  3. Came here from Robin’s Walktober post. Thank you for this gentle reminder about needing to feel the positive things in life while coping with the difficult parts. Walks are so important for our mental health! Talking to people along the way helps us to understand that we are not alone. Beautiful post.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind comments—and welcome! It’s good to have you here. I’m thoroughly enjoying Robin’s idea and all the lovely posts also. Here’s to a nice walk for both of us today, even though it’s gotten a bit colder where I live.

  4. dawnkinster says:

    This is lovely. And heartwrenching. This is life, and for almost two years many of us have been avoiding it as we hunkered down in the safety of our homes, within our pods, or alone. Time to carefully stretch our heads above our shoulders, flex our good neighbor skills and venture out. Thank you for the reminder. (Over here from Robin’s Walktober post.)

    1. candidkay says:

      Welcome! I loved Robin’s Walktober idea😀. And you are so right. We’ve had some fairly isolating times and it is wonderful to be rubbing shoulders with humanity again. Even if we’re not quite rubbing shoulders and it’s outdoors from a few feet away :-).

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Sounds like you live in a wonderful neighborhood, Kristine. I enjoyed strolling it with you and Bailey. It is good to get out and about!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Eliza! I’m hoping to do it quite a bit more before winter hits here.☃️

  6. Robin says:

    Thank you so much, Kristine, for this post and the reminders of all that is good, all that we find when we stay in the moment. And thank you for posting it as part of Walktober. It’s such a beautiful, wonderful walk. ❤

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Robin, for getting people to share all their wonderful walks😀. Lots to smile about in these posts!

  7. fritzdenis says:

    Thanks for this post…I’m dogsitting a whippet and terrier. Our news has been bad lately, but the morning and evening walks take me to other places (mentally and physically). Thank God for dogs.

    1. candidkay says:

      Amen to that. Dogs rock. And I hear you on the news. Already this morning, and oil spill, salmonella outbreak, an abused dog, multiple shootings. I won’t go on. Surely we can do better.

  8. I let out a very deep breath after readying this lovely post. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      One writer to another, you couldn’t have said anything nicer😊. Thank you! I’m glad this one made you feel good.

  9. Thank goodness for our dogs pulling us out into life, allowing our hearts to sense the beauty and goings on., opening ourselves up to spirit and what truly matters! Otherwise the mind might just not cope as the world around us charges relentless, forcing us to believe only in the mundane❤️ A couple more hours and I’ll be getting up on another sunny Sunday and walking down to the beach… admiring people trying to get on in life, smile and do the best they can. Oh another beautiful day. Thankyou for your lovely story… it’s given me an extra bounce🥰 much love to you dear Kristine❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Barbara! I do think you’ve put yourself in such a lovely place. The beach and natural beauty that surround you. The people we surround ourselves with matters so much but I do also think that Nature plays such a role. Wishing you a wonderful sunny Sunday!

  10. Roy McCarthy says:

    Gorgeous, gentle observation as ever Kristine. These last 18 months we’ve learnt to live in the moment, take the positives, notice things which we once overlooked as inconsequential. A shame things are still so angsty in ‘Murica. Here in Jersey (CI) we’re experiencing a gentle and warm autumn with most of our cares behind us.

    1. candidkay says:

      A gentle and warm autumn sounds heavenly, Roy! Set the table. I’ll be right over😉.

  11. Another heartwarming post, Kristine. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Jennifer! It’s not your gorgeous setting but it’ll do😀. For now, at least!

      1. It sounds lovely to me. xx

  12. mydangblog says:

    Such a lovely post and message. I’m glad your neighbourhood is thriving despite everything:-)

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you 😊. I’m really fortunate to be where I am!

  13. Karen Lang says:

    Beautiful Ms Kristine. This moment holds infinite possibilities! 💚👏

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Karen🙏🏻! It certainly does.

  14. cathkalcolor says:

    I couldn’t help but think you lived in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood because your post was so heartwarming and tender but these neighborhoods exist if we only slow down to enjoy them as you have. What a lovely post. Thank you!

    1. candidkay says:

      They certainly do exist :-). I have really felt blessed to be in the neighborhood I have been in for the past few decades. And I really can’t imagine being in one that isn’t like this. It just adds so much to the quality of your life.

  15. Kathy says:

    I loved reading about your stroll around the neighbor. The gift of Presence during such hard times. So sweet…

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Kathy! Hope you’re experiencing it!

  16. Masha says:

    Beautiful Kay, I love this, your words paint a picture so vivid it brought tears to my eyes. xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m glad this one touched you! Thank you for reading and for the lovely comments. Wishing you a beautiful day, Masha😊.

  17. Jane Lurie says:

    Beautiful post, Kristine. Your writing reminds us to notice and appreciate life’s moments – a basic tenant for me as a photographer. Looking forward to my walk around the block today. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      I would say that you definitely do appreciate life’s moments, Jane. It really shows in your photos! Thanks for reading and I hope your walk is filled with wonderful people and things.

  18. markbialczak says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your neighborhood’s good, Kay. I will use it as I prepare myself for today’s trip to work at the library.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope it’s a beautiful day, Mark!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

  19. Dale says:

    Oh Miss Kristine! This was delightful. Such a heartwarming share (as well as the previous linked story). Yes, the little things (baby toes are the BOMB) and a walk can just help you see that there is so much we have right there to enjoy, It’s groovy, baby 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, yes, good–but you’re running and getting oh so healthy! Also good. Just don’t miss the baby toes along the way:).

      1. Dale says:

        Doing the best I can. Some days I need a swift kick to get going. Gonna be a while before there are new baby toes in this family, tell you what! So, I’ll just enjoy the flowers and whatever else grabs my attention 🙂

  20. srbottch says:

    Lovely advice, ‘Miss Kristine’. I enjoyed the walk and felt the uplifting love permeating your neighborhood. All my best to you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Steve. Keep that love going! So many people who need it right now.

  21. Hi, Kristine. Right, it isn’t all darkness out there. Not by a long shot. By the way, do you think COVID ever will diminish to the point that it isn’t a big worry?

    1. candidkay says:

      Easy to remember some days, harder on those gray ones mid-winter, right? But yes, a lot of good out there. I’m not scientist but I do believe we’ll eventually nail the strains. I watched a documentary on the search for a flu shot that would cover all strains–if we can do that, surely we can beat COVID too. I’m a big believer in science, innovation and human ingenuity. How about you?

  22. Aww, I loved this so much, Kristine. The world has seemingly come unglued and it can be difficult to have even a morsel of hope. Your post gave me that. Thanks for the reminder. Later today I am going to walk over to the pond to visit the turtles, have a Kristine moment and take it all in. ❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      Ooh, a Kristine moment with turtles! That sounds absolutely delightful:). I hope you breathe and soak in the sunshine and remember your goodness. Love to you!

      1. Thank you, Kristine. Lots of love right back!

  23. With so much around us that is depressing it is good to stay in the moment on a walk. Thanks for sharing yours, Kristine.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, John! I know you enjoy yours around the neighborhood b/c I’ve read about them. Hope the weather is holding for you!

      1. It has been beautiful all week. In the low 90s. We missed Hell’s Back Porch this year.

  24. A walk can reset everything. And yes to baby toes. The little magical things in life.

    1. candidkay says:

      Baby toes are the elixir of life 🍼! Truth.

  25. willedare says:

    I agree with Brad. Thank you and hurrah for sharing these heartful specifics from your recent neighborhood walk! I agree that it is a challenge to find/honor “joy in the everyday things with feeling like we’re doing our part to improve the world.” In addition to your lovely blog post, I am finding optimism in today’s news from CA regarding the recall vote.

    1. candidkay says:

      Right? All these tiny pinch points of hope that I am hoping will eventually merged together into pure goodness. In the meantime, I suggest we all be realist but stay out of the emotional abyss that is so tempting some days. Sending you good juju ✨.

  26. Thanks for sharing your lovely neighborhood news Kristine. It warmed my heart on a day that I needed a little boost. It’s good to know life, love, and play still abound.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m glad this one resonated, Brad! So hard to balance finding joy in the everyday things with feeling like we’re doing our part to improve the world.

      1. Agreed, it’s a tricky balance.

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