Room with a View
In the morning I sit in a wooden rocking chair, dog at my feet and write in a journal. Outside, students arrive at the school across the street, cars make their way to work, and the occasional dog walker rouses Junior to attention. My mind wanders from the words scribbled on journal pages to the people I see and back to the wandering world in my head.
I’ve carved a space to in our breezeway where I can read, meditate and write. Often it’s difficult, mind and body strain and pull toward mindless action. Mindless in the sense that I seldom realize what I’m doing or why I’m doing it unless I slow down a bit. Not unlike my experience on the road with the Vespa. Traveling too fast I miss a lot.
Handful of Drugs
Every day begins with a handful of drugs to keep my heart running and arthritis at bay. Then a walk through the garden with the dogs. The two are related, part of a meditative ritual comprised of wandering our little landscape. It’s surprising how similar the experience is to riding, treading along familiar paths with an eye to the details I continue to miss.
Canine Task Masters
Our dogs have a dramatic effect on my laziness and sloth. Lily has a particularly successful approach to getting me moving. If I sleep too long, or take a break that surpasses a length of time she considers acceptable, she’ll start to work to move me to action. A gentle stare at first which escalates to a nudge. Should I resist she’ll plow her nose under my arm and insistently goad me to get off my ass. Her work is masterful and accounts for hundreds of miles of walking and countless photographs that otherwise would not have been made.
Wandering on Foot
I’ve still been riding the Vespa. A few errands, a little wandering, but have been more motivated to walk of late. The physical nature of walking combined with the ease of photographic observation has been mesmerizing enough to push the Vespa into second place of activity. Odd though since each time I go for a ride the familiar soaring of spirit occurs.
Pennsylvania Military Museum
Typically the dogs and I wander through the museum grounds and then on through the historic section of Boalsburg. The museum offers a lovely visual canvas, but the wet summer and recent flooding has produced swarms of mosquitoes that can make the walk dismal.
Old Paths and Haunts
When I do ride the scooter, I find myself wandering some of the places I did when working. When I retired, my weekly visits to the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State ceased. A recent walk on campus led me into the galleries again. I had forgotten how relaxing those visits can be as I sat and stared at the paintings. Regardless of the subject or content of any individual work, there’s a humanity to paintings that resonates in me if I spend some time with them.
And it does take time.
Kim, the dogs and I have been making a lot of walks in the middle of the night when the neighborhood is asleep. So far, aside from the occasional glow of a television screen there are few signs of life. I wonder how many people ever venture out at 3am to explore?
Downtown with a Dog
Junior or Lily regularly explore State College with me at night. Our travels happen anywhere between 7pm when stores and cafes are still open to 2am when the fragrance of alcohol drifts from the many bars that exist to service the drinking needs of college students. We’re seldom disappointed by the stories that unfold on the streets or campus. Last night ESPN was unloading tractor trailers full of gear in preparation of their Game Day broadcasts before the Penn State — Ohio State football game this weekend.
NOTE TO SELF: Stay out of town this weekend…
Saw a young couple sitting on a scooter at a traffic light and could not resist making a picture. I didn’t notice the leg brace until later. I still get chills seeing people riding without a helmet.
Photography and Projects
Since my Scooter in the Sticks show in August I’ve been slowly moving toward my next project. Wandering with a camera has been a useful tool in figuring out what I’m going to do.
Last night I was in the darkroom loading film into 4×5 holders. I’m ready to go.
Time will tell.
How much wandering do you do on foot? Through your garden or neighborhood. In the wee small hours of the morning. There’s a lot to see in a wandering world.