Freestyle Friday: repurposing the commute

I usually cycle to work, and I make sure my route takes me along the city’s beautiful multi-use trail system while I plug into a playlist of Blue Rodeo, Dixie Chicks, Bruce Springsteen and Adele.

This winter though, I’ve often taken the bus and I’ll admit that for a writer, eavesdropping is probably the biggest draw. I love overhearing a grandma and a toddler discussing life on the way to daycare; or two university students planning a road trip to celebrate the end of exams.

Even so, the bus is busy and jostle-y and noisy. There isn’t much space or time to, as Julia Cameron recommends in The Artist’s Way, refill the well of creativity.

So lately I’ve taken to riding shank’s mare instead of a bike or the bus.

Here are a few of the things I discovered when I laced up and unplugged. No wheels, no tunes.

The gold is a bank of willows lining a creek that is, right now as every spring, home to an amorous mallard couple.
Flowering ornamental plum trees prettify even a grey day, and when the blossoms fall, they transform the pavement. Magic.
A doe stood beside me as I took this photo. I was admiring the flowers for their beauty, she for their buffet potential.

Between and during every photo, there’s a soundtrack. The soft companionable quacking of the mallards, Canada geese squawking in for a landing on a baseball field, murders of crows, hunter-gatherer robins, and yesterday my favourite harbinger of spring: a red-winged blackbird.

My well runneth over.

Wishing you a weekend full of beautiful sights, sounds, and fragrances,



The Gift of Getting Comfy

I was having one of those disturbing discussions about maturity. “Mature” means different things to different people. If you’re a cheese, it means you’re just getting good. If you’re a human, it means people are trying to sell you expensive face creams.

Or, if you’re me, it’s an aspirational term referencing my behavior. Someday, I shall be mature and behave like a sophisticated adult. Or not.

At any rate, a mature individual (or cheese) has gone beyond a certain point of anxiety. Those first few years on the work force, in social situations, and battling life expectations were stressful. Now they are a fait accompli. Been there, done that, don’t care what others think. That’s a huge relief.

The signs of this enviable state are clear. One knows enough to purchase fashions that actually look good instead of just trendy. Fear of missing out is replaced by gratitude for a good night’s sleep. One eats vegetables voluntarily and half one’s childhood possessions are now worth something on collectible sites.

However, the part I like the most is the superpower of a cool head. Problems arise, upheavals strike, and the natural response of the newbies is to run away screaming. Those of us who’ve seen this show before are more likely to ask, “Is that all you’ve got?” Experience enough to stave off panic? Priceless.

The truth is, most things are survivable. If we’ve been paying attention, we know what to do. At the very least, we know enough to take care of business and fall apart afterward. That’s the real gift maturity brings: the knowledge of when to fight, when to surrender, and when to call for take-out.

So I don’t worry about growing up or growing old. I celebrate growing smarter.