She was there at the end of the trail, where dirt meets concrete. Standing in the sunlight, her bike leaning up against the bench that overlooks the river valley below. It was our second encounter.
“Hey!” she called out as Ellie and I exited the trailhead onto the sidewalk leading back to the parking lot. “So nice to see you again. Isn’t it beautiful?”
And it was. A perfect winter afternoon. Not cold. Temperature hovering around freezing. Bright sunshine spilling shadows across the snow.
We chatted for a few moments and then she exclaimed. “Know what I’m going to do when I get home?” She didn’t wait for an answer before continuing. “I’ve got a lawn chair on my front lawn. We face south. I’m going to take my tea and sit in my chair, I’ll stay dressed up in my outer clothes of course,” and in the same breath, she swept one arm down her brown and red ski suit and kept going. “And I’m going to sit there. Only,” she paused, her bright blue eyes squinting at me, “I’m not sure what to do while I’m sitting there. What do you think I should do? Any suggestions.”
I didn’t really have any suggestions. I was enthralled with this stream of dialogue from a stranger. Enthralled with the beauty of the day.
She didn’t wait for an answer. “You know the neighbours might look at me funny sitting out there in winter. What do you think?” And then she proceeded to tell me about a bedroom that her son had just vacated which she didn’t want to turn into a bedroom again and had a beautiful dresser and… Finally, she took a breath.
“Why do you need a reason to sit out in the sunshine on your front lawn at any time of year?” I asked.
She chortled at my question. “It’s such a habit,” she exclaimed. “Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’m going to go do it and not worry about what I should be doing doing nothing!” and she hopped on her bike and took off down the trail, her cheery, “Wonderful to chat with you. Hope I see you again!” drifting back towards me.
I smiled. What a perfect encounter.
And when I got home, I grabbed my journal, a pen, a cup of tea, and a blanket to wrap myself in and sat on the back deck, soaking up the afternoon sun, listening to the birds in the bushes and writing myself out onto the page.
In that encounter, I was made different. In that encounter with a stranger, I was inspired to enjoy the moment, to sink into the sunshine and simply be, present.
I met a woman on the trail yesterday. She made a difference.
and… there’s more to the story… visit me at Recover Your Joy to find out all about snow angels and other divine happenings.
If you see her again, tell her about Laura Barkat’s book about sitting outside every day for a year.
I shall Maureen! 🙂
Thank you for reminding me that sometimes I need a moment to just sit and enjoy what the Italians call “il dolce far niente,” the sweetness of doing nothing. If I start to worry about productivity, it helps to remind myself of something the very busy Mahatma Gandhi once said: “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Naps are good, too. I’ve heard that Leonardi Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Margaret Thatcher were prolific nappers. So next time I just sit still, or meditate, or nod off in the middle of the day, I’ll remind myself that I’m in excellent company – including you. 🙂
Ohhhh. I love that phrase… “il dolce far niente”. I am going to gift myself that sweetness this evening. I like your company too Cara!
she did make a difference! that is so cool.
Thanks Nance! it is cool. Ellie and I just came back from our walk and met up with a man whom we often meet — we hadn’t seen him since before Christmas though — so we had a lovely chat and I left our encounter smiling. I love how other people can make such a difference in my day just by smiling.