I Named You…Peaceful

The air was slightly cool, the wind was blowing gently, and the sun was out in full force, bringing a slightly warm feeling to the day. With the sun, the air did not feel too cold anymore.

Stepping out of the building, starting to walk toward the street and these feet suddenly stopped, because the owner’s attention was caught by the view presented in front of her. She was in awe by what the nature showed. Time to take the camera out.

Who could pass their attention from this view?  The trees were strong, tall, huge, and beautiful, but it was the blue sky behind them that emphasized their presence further. The trees on the ground and the clouds hanging by the blue sky combined together was breathtaking.

Feeling a sense of excitement, she continued to walk. Stepping her feet on the sidewalk eagerly, she could hear her own steps. Together with the steps, she could hear more sounds around her: the sound of cars passing by, children cracking up and screaming joyfully in the park nearby, birds singing on the trees. One bird caught her attention.

Can you see the bird in the picture too?

Alone with her thoughts now, she pressed on. This early evening walk, after all, is her escape. It’s an opportunity to be completely alone, left with her mind and senses. It’s a time to think through everything that has happened recently, a chance to browse through options before making a decision, a moment of silence to mourn or grief a loss, or … just a plain exercise. Her walking is a form of exercise, with the nature around her as a reward. A gym would not be able to offer the following view, wouldn’t it?

Or how about the following view. All a person has to do is look up in order to appreciate it. Another breathtaking moment.

This time of the day, right before the sun goes down, is always the best time of the day for her. There is just something about this time of the day that always brings a sense of peace and calm to her senses. To understand it, one would have to go back decades ago to her childhood. It was a time in the day where she typically just ended her afternoon nap, feeling fresh to start the second part of her day. It was a time in the day where people in her household would sit together in the dining room table sipping tea, eating snacks, and sharing stories. It was the time of the day when the house was the most crowded and alive. Often music would be played, but mostly one would hear chatters. Sometimes some neighbors or relatives would stop by to share the moment too. It was a time to look forward to after a day of school. See, it was a familiar time. She felt welcomed there, she felt belonged there. She knew the routine well.

Back to the walking…

A new activity is therefore needed to replace the childhood routine for this time of the day, and thankfully, one has been established. It’s called walking, but it is not possible without, first of all, being thankful for the warm and nice weather for it was almost impossible to do it during the harsh, cold, unfriendly winter.

Stepping ahead, she grew tired of listening to her own steps and put on the ear pieces of the ipod. Music was a good company, in addition to the company of few birds and squirrels she met during the walk. If she were lucky, she could actually synchronize her steps and the music. Music also has a way of affecting her spirit. Well, that is the purpose of music, really. It makes you feel something. A wide array of feelings she had felt during her many walks caused by her choices of music. You name it, she had felt it. The joy she felt in listening to Bruno Mars’ Count on Me or some reggae tunes; oh dear, she would burst into a dance right there in the middle of the crosswalk if she could, oh yes she would. The rush of warm feelings from the memories that Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken brought to her. She sang that song in a school choir during her 7th or 8th grade. Or how about the forlorn feeling from listening to Fix You by Coldplay. And Peter Rowan’s No Woman No Cry, it would make her completely lost in her mind and feel….just exactly that, happily lost.

Hearing, seeing, feeling, what is left is smelling. Oh yes, smelling. What would a person smell during a walk in a typical neighborhood during spring? If you guess grass, you are absolutely right. The smell of new born grass, trees, leaves, berries and flowers, breathing life freely after a long winter. Flowers, they are just starting to bloom. What a pretty sight to the eyes and a pleasant welcoming to the olfactory organ.

Wait, there was one more smell that she noticed sometimes during her walk and it was related to the time of the day when people are starting to prepare for dinner. People tend to eat dinner early around here, unlike where she was from when people tend to have tea time around this time of the day and dinner way later in the evening. The last smell was the smell of barbecuing and it was lovely, just truly lovely.

So, let me ask you, who could pass a time in the day like this? I know she couldn’t. Could you? It’s the best time of the day. It’s peaceful.


A Day in Chicago

All of these pictures were taken on a hot, muggy, summer day at the end of July 2009 in Chicago. I just came back from a picnic with some refugees from one of the refugee resettlement agencies in Chicago. The picnic took place at the Montrose Harbor, by the lake (lake Michigan), and on the way home I thought it would be a nice day to take a walk by the lake, so I did. While walking to the next bus stop, I took some pictures. So I started walking from the Montrose Harbor and sightseeing…

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and I kept walking….
a person can do a lot of thinking during moments like this….
…and without even realizing it, I ended up at the Belmont Harbor.  Here is a proof for those of you who are familiar with Chicago street numbering system, this is pretty damn close to Belmont Harbor.
I didn’t even realize how far I walked.  I also saw something cute, though, a beach for dogs to play.
And all of this walking was done using my sandals, which was (not) a smart move on my part.

But in the end, I gave myself a reward. After all, I think I did about 3 miles of a walk (and with those sandals?).

Aaahhh….it’s just another beautiful day in Chicago, and this is one of the ways to enjoy it while it lasts.  Pretty soon, it’ll be winter.  Did anyone ever tell you that Chicago only has two seasons?  Winter and construction (construction =  warmer weather).  I’m thankful for another construction season.