May 2nd, 2006


My Commute

I'll tell you a secret.

I love my daily commute.

There, I've said it.

When I bought my house two and a half years ago, I meant to buy a scooter so that I wouldn't have to walk to work every day. I remember writing an entry about it, way back when.

I never did get a scooter, much less a car. Lut's schedule has varied greatly; when it's convenient, sometimes I've gotten a ride from him. But for most of the last 30 months, I've been walking to and from work every weekday.

And I like it.

Oh, during the most wintry days, when the windchill drives the apparent temperature below 10 or 20F, or when there's several inches of snow to wade through on unplowed back roads, I don't much enjoy it.

But the weather in Emerald City is, for the most part, rather nice. This past winter was especially mild; there were at most a couple dozen days when it was cold enough to make walking a chore rather than a pleasure.

The rest of the time, it's fun. I actually look forward to walking home from work. It's a highlight of my day. Twenty minutes when I'm not expected to do anything except put one foot in front of the other, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. Often, I'll read during the walk, so if I've got a good book it's especially fun. Right now I'm reading a mediocre book*, but that's all right. This morning, on the way in, I lifted my eyes from the book and looked up, then stretched out my hands to the heavens. The sky was perfectly clear, vivid blue, and the road lined by greenery. It's magnificent. There're some empty, overgrown lots along the road I take to work, and I stared into them, enjoying the tall grasses and frondy weeds, the puffballs of dandelions and the scraggly trees. Each house has its own look: some with neatly-trimmed, weed-free lawns, others cut but with the stems of dandelions growing above the grass line, others with "for sale" signs out front, and lawns almost as wild as the empty lots. Mine is not a tidy suburban community, with a homeowner's association out to make sure everyone keeps their lawn in a state of uniform perfection.

And that's just fine with me. Lut and I keep an untidy lawn, at best hacked down to a semblance of order. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. But looking into the half-wild greenery of those vacant lots, I wonder why I worry about it. Left to her own devices, Nature produces beauty more often than not. This neighborhood may not be a suburban utopia, but it's not a decaying urban wasteland, either. The yards may be ill-tended, but the paint isn't peeling on the houses, there's not much debris,** and the neighborhood is quiet.

I like the area. It's unplanned and unkempt, but not unloved.

On a hot summer day, or a rainy spring day, or a chill autumn one -- walking through it is no chore at all.

* Dhampir, by Barb & J.C. Hendee, which is enjoyable enough for me to finish but not good enough to recommend. I keep finding myself picking it apart from a writer's view, ticking off points for cliches and badly-executed fanservice scenes.

** My own yard collects litter. I never notice the trash in other peoples' yards, which could means: (a) my lot is unlucky because it's on the corner near one of the busier sidestreets (b) other people are more prompt about disposing of what gets dumped on their property (c) the other yards are also afflicted, but I don't notice because I only pay close attention to my own or (d) all of the above. I'm going with (d), myself.