Ho, Earthling!

Local Color

I’ve always enjoyed the places I’ve lived, at least until the worms began crawling out of the woodwork and infiltrating my brain with messages of malaise, causing me to long for U-Haul boxes and the feel of newspaper-wrapped dishes in my hands (I am very good at packing, ask anyone). But no place I’ve lived — and there have been many — has given me the utter joy I feel these days when I step out my front door and face west and the water and the sky and the islands beyond.

Oh no, I take that back. Colorado did that, too. The nightly sight of the Front Range silhouetted against the technicolor sunset sky never grew old in the year I was there, and I wept to leave it.

But this town is even better. I feel a part of the color here, not just a spectator. There’s a difference.

1. Yesterday we drove over the hill into the other part of town. A couple, neither young nor old, stood in the street near their car, talking. He was wearing pajamas. With penguins on them.

2. Today I saw a cat I didn’t know in my yard and then across the street in the shade of the wide maple tree. I opened my front door and called, “Here, kitty kitty kitty!” A woman stepped out of her car parked across the street and asked me if the cat was mine. Later I went over to talk to her; she’s homeless, waiting until she can move in with her son and his girlfriend. A handknit pink hat covered her frosted, over-processed, bleached blonde hair. She said that in parks, where she’s been spending her time, the animals have become her friends. Her name is Jeannie.

3. Matthew and I rode together on my motorcycle the other day. We drove past a strip-mall church. In the parking lot in front of the long low building there were about 8 policemen with bulletproof vests and what I guessed were automatic rifles. One gave a hand signal and they moved as a group toward the church, guns pointed in front of them.

4. The blackberries — which are everywhere, along every trail and path, coming up unbidden in every yard — ripen at different times. If you can brave the thorns and you keep going back every couple of days, there’s an endless supply for a few weeks.

5. The burritos here are the size of newborn babies, but taste much better.

6. You can swim in 60-degree water, sure.

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