I’m visiting my family in the Bay Area this weekend, but here are some pictures of the arboretum and the cute caterpillars I met there a few weeks ago.
It’s interesting to feel how decisively Summer turns into Fall in Seattle. I grew up in the Bay Area in California, which really only has two seasons: Summer and Fall, but there’s not a ton of definition between them. You just eventually notice that Starbucks is carrying pumpkin spice lattes and decide that, even though it’s still uncomfortably warm out, you’re gonna wear a scarf, dammit. (And then stubbornly wear it all day while your neck itches and sweats. At least it’s cute.)
In Seattle, I just step outside one day and it feels like Autumn all of a sudden. It wavers back and forth a few times, but after that the Summer is pretty solidly over. Even the bright and sunny days that follow feel muted. The sunshine gets a little more golden, like it’s permanently set in late afternoon mode, and the flowers look like they’re getting ready for bed even though they’re still blooming bravely away. There are days like this in California, to be sure, but they’re usually heavily interspersed with heat that feels like it’s been personally sent to punish you for getting out of your air-conditioned car.
I can definitely get on board with this kind of beautiful, crisp Autumn, although I’m still not convinced about the whole snow and ice in Winter thing. I think that I’d still choose light sweaters and sushi at Christmas over getting snowed into the house and watching the neighbor kids sledding down the street with their big old dog, intriguingly novel as that very Hallmark experience was.
Spring is on probation. It’s awfully damp and the days are too short, but it makes the salamanders happy. Gotta think of the salamanders.
I’ve been walking a lot more, lately. It seems kinda vital to take advantage of these last bits of nice weather before things get truly wintery and unpleasant. Walking is my favorite form of exercise, and it’s been recommended by a surprising number of successful writers throughout history as a form of meditation when inspiration is lagging. It’s peaceful, the scenery provides stimulation for the imagination, and moving around is generally pretty good for the whole system. I’ve known for a long time that people with ADHD in particular tend to have better focus when they get exercise, but it has to be somewhat consistent to be effective, and consistency is difficult when you’ve got ADHD. Somehow, though, I’ve managed to get something like a routine established.
There’s a beautiful bike path around a lake near my place, and I love going out there, even though my dogs absolutely lose their tiny minds at the sight of all the fat and insolent squirrels who taunt them from the sides of the trail. It takes us a lazy hour and a half to go around the lake, and I don’t usually spend the time specifically thinking about anything in particular. I think it’s been helping with my general mental clarity, which makes it easier to choose to keep going out, and to make choices about what to do with my time without getting overwhelmed. I’ve always unconsciously classified walking in pretty places as “the stuff I do when I should probably be doing the dishes or writing.”
That was not great. Jogging around the neighborhood will never be my thing, even if it might seem more efficient, or like a “better” form of exercise, or whatever other judgement I had in the back of my mind about the whole thing. It’s boring, it hurts, and my dogs would rather tie their leash into a bow around my legs than trot faithfully at my side. It just doesn’t work for me, but walking in a spot with some good trees and water does, and I can do it for a long time before I get bored or tired.
We’re often taught a very adversarial approach to exercising our bodies, but healthy movement really doesn’t have to be any kind of a punishment to be beneficial.
Writing days this past week: 3
Halloween is theoretically a spooky time, but let’s be real, it’s all just fun. People enjoy the little thrills, but mostly it’s an excuse to be creative and silly. Those thrills aren’t even really fear, they’re the excitement of being allowed to look at and celebrate things that are still slightly taboo. We’re not supposed to talk about death too lightly, except right now, when we can hang human skeletons and cute little ghosts from our trees. They’re even selling adorable little fake dog and lizard skeletons in every shop, although most of the time people might think it’s a little weird that I keep real ones in my office.
The most exciting things in life are often the things that have the capacity to be a little scary. That’s why we like roller-coasters, painfully spicy food, kinky sex, and sharing our artistic work in spite of the fairly legitimate terror of rejection and/or mockery. The people who seem to enjoy themselves the most fully are the ones who manage to do what they do in spite of the fear, even learning to embrace the fear, rather than because they had no fear to start with. It’s no fun without the thrill, or maybe there’s just less of a sense of triumph if we didn’t have to push through some discomfort to get to the goal.
Writing days this past week: 3