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Slowing down for a closer look

July 17, 2011

The little things in life came into sharper focus last year, when I found myself with a lot more free time. My weekdays shifted from turbo to Sunday-drive pace (a fringe benefit of suddenly being “downsized”) and I began to notice and experience things that I had taken for granted or never seemed to have time for. I also felt a renewed appreciation for the beauty and diversity of my surroundings.

I became more attuned to the animals and plants in my own yard and the woods that border it. I felt the exhilaration of hiking on unfamiliar trails along local rivers, ridges and mountainsides, and had fun exploring new places during day trips.

There were other simple pleasures, such as working on my computer while sitting on my patio on a breezy summer day, at a time when I normally would be in an air-conditioned office with sealed windows. And relaxing on that same patio while watching the cardinals, goldfinches, chickadees and nuthatches pecking at a bird feeder hanging from the red maple a few yards away.

Some other highlights of my slowed-down world:

  • The red-headed and pileated woodpeckers tapping at the bark of the towering tulip tree outside my home office window
  • The sight and scent of lilacs, tulips and daffodils in full bloom at a greenhouse flower show on a chilly day during the first weekend of spring

  • Leaning into a lilac bush to inhale an aroma rush that helps propel me up a hill as I walk through my neighborhood
  • The bird sanctuary and hidden network of hiking trails in the new community park that on first look seems to offer only the usual mix of playgrounds and soccer fields
  • On the other hand, the perfectly nice park just down the street from my home — a place I hadn’t visited for several years, opting instead to drive to recreation areas with amenities that this neighborhood spot lacked
  • The hundreds of exotic butterflies that fluttered around me and landed at eye level on vegetation in a butterfly conservatory. The winged insects came from Asia, Central and South America and had poetic names like blue morpho, glasswing, piano key and cattleheart.

  • The vivid periwinkle-colored hydrangeas showing off in my neighborhood
  • Buying fresh garlic, red leaf lettuce and crisp McIntosh apples at the farmer’s market held every Saturday in my town from May through mid-December
  • Afterward, stopping for strong coffee with steamed milk or cinnamon-spiked hot chocolate at a café run by Columbian immigrants
  • Picking curly lettuce, basil, green beans and yellow squash from the garden and planters out back and eating them for dinner an hour later

  • Laughing as a chipmunk dives into his hole in the grass, one of his hind legs entwined with a maple leaf twice his size. The leaf, now disengaged, covering the hole like a hatch cover.
  • The thrill of watching a well-orchestrated fireworks display over the Hudson River on a late summer day

Although I’ve returned to full-time work in a city office, my day-to-day pace remains slower in important ways.

I listen and watch more closely for the birds, rabbits, chipmunks and deer that fly and scramble through my yard…I take time to notice the subtle seasonal changes in the trees and flowering plants in my environment…I have a more Zen approach to rush hour driving…and I continue to explore new places and experiences in the world of little things just within my reach.

© Janice Leary and My Point Exactly, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use of this material, including original photographs, without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janice Leary and My Point Exactly with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
One Comment leave one →
  1. July 17, 2011 7:36 pm

    thanks for sharing photos of nice flowers, I especially like the tulips

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