I traced my usual path, down the greenbelt from our house and then veered off a bit into the neighborhood looking for pretty things to take photos of. And the walking, and the quiet, and the familiar route, got me thinking about the layered nature of memory. How walking this route, I wasn't just seeing the beauty of fall around me today, but also seeing so many other times I've walked the same way.
With Chloe when I very first ventured out a few days after giving birth, all six pounds of her wrapped in a waffled pink receiving blanket. I could carry her in one arm and I made it all the way to the second bench before I wore out and sat down to rest before walking back home. That was the first time my friend Therese met her...driving by in her car she stopped and called out, "Chloe's finally here." And I beamed to be able to show my little bundle to her.
Later I'd walk Chloe in her front carrier, with 110 pounds of both dogs on their leashes. It's amazing I didn't kill anyone. One memory that haunts me is having all of them near one of our big square mailboxes, bending down, and almost hitting Chloe's face on the corner of the metal. I think of it every time I pass that big box. All those "almost" disasters with children. They're frightening to think of.
All of us going on family walks, taking pictures of the dogs and our girl, videos too. When I go back and watch the videos, I don't even always remember having been there.
Seasons changing, Gracie flying through the air to catch the frisbee, so beautiful, laying down to rest in the blankets of fall leaves.
The way the water floods over the path in the winter when there is an especially strong series of storms. And all of us putting on rain boots and stomping through the thrill of water up on the grass and over the pathways.
Friends and family come to visit, taking walks after dinner. Children so much smaller, some friends no longer in our lives and much missed.
All the houses through their different incarnations. Well cared for, sold, gone slowly to seed, foreclosure, re-sold, painted, spruced up, beautiful again. Different colors, new trees, new flowers, new people.
Scout and Tyla and Angel. Three dogs who have passed on. Scout was a beautiful Aussie, always off leash. The most well-behaved boy with the most devoted owner. When Scout got old, his owner made a little cart and would bring him out for walks, or rides, just so he could enjoy the day. At the very end they'd lay together on a blanket and just watch the world pass by. Now Scout's owner (no I never seem to know the humans' names!) has a new Aussie, light brown to Scout's black and a new wife. Tyla, a beautiful, if not very friendly, Viszla was a puppy the same time as Gracie. They never got along, but I watched them grow up, and grow old, parallel. Tyla died a few months before Gracie did, and now there's a new Viszla on the path, Nero. Angel was so fat she could barely walk even when she was young, but very sweet; she's gone too.
There are so many memories. Several for each step of this walk. All washing over me like waves, like sunlight. I don't remember feeling this way when I was younger, a place was just a place, and I never even thought of it as anything different. The grocery store on the corner had always been that and had yet to be replaced with a gym. Now I know, there are ghosts everywhere. Friendly ones mostly.
So when we're going through our days, we're here, yes. But we're also there. It makes for a richer life, I think.