A Slow Down Place
Ok, so I’ve started this post about 12 times. There’s an important message here and I’m trying to get my head around it and pinpoint it. I think the message here is that it is necessary, important, and even critical to slow down at some point, for some specified time (which is different for everyone) and just let go of your brain. Stop to smell the roses, if you will, to be outrageously cliche.
And you know, that is exactly what I found over the Memorial Day weekend. Roses…everywhere….in a small town in northern Ohio. Pleasantville, if you will. An idyllic community where life can run at a midwestern pace. A Norman Rockwell painting of Americana in its finest traditions. And gorgeous, blooming rosebushes in every garden.
The community is one where I spent all the summers of my childhood and where my mother lives full time. The town acts more like a large neighborhood. Only a mile by a half mile square with Lake Erie it’s northern border, it is a place of true neighbors, a “borrow a cup of sugar” community. But more than that it is a slow down place.
It’s hard to write about because it’s nearly impossible for me to do. I don’t stop often (see my post on Itchy Feet) and when I stop physically my brain just runs over my feet and keeps moving on. So stopping is HARD.
Stopping to Smell the Roses
Sunday morning I went out for a run and as I crossed 7th and Maple St, I was struck by the smell of summer. It was an enormous tree decked out in its finest pink blossoms smelling like a lilac perfume. It literally caused me to stop…..and put my face right inside that tree and inhale deeply. It was magnificent….it was the aroma of, “stopping to smell the flowers”. I think after that I just instinctively slowed my running pace and started looking around.
Summer holiday weekends in the midwest have that family feel. They ooze bbq’s, American flags and family bike rides. As I cruised around the “village” I noticed the relaxed pace of home owners planting flowers, kids on the swing in the park, neighbors talking (yes talking!) to one another across the fence and yes, people sitting in chairs simply reading. It’s a place where people sit on their porches, play Scrabble and wave each other in for a chat. As a 5th generation family in this magic place, it’s takes hours to walk just a few blocks, yet the time doesn’t matter. The intimacy of knowing people is the importance. The slowing down to care is what makes it so special.
I was enjoying the porch this morning as mom was baking a cake (yes, another icon of Americana), waving to the neighbors when we heard the sirens of the local ambulance cruise by just one street south. We all stopped and walked outside, wondering who it might be….everyone cares. Nothing was important enough that we wouldn’t take the time to inquire that everyone was okay.
In the afternoon, just before the clouds darkened bringing in a summer storm, Mom told me she was out of sesame oil. She instructed me out on the rusty purple Schwinn with the basket on front. Just go find some…..which meant cruising the town knocking on doors. The local groceries wouldn’t carry anything so exotic so we relied on friends coming from the big cities of Cleveland, Columbus or Toledo to keep such imports in their cupboards. Sure enough, Debbie had some in her rental cottage, so I pedaled on over. As the thunder started to near, Debbie shooed me on indicating I should ride on home before the rain, concerned over me like a neighborhood child. The wind whipped up as I pedaled barefoot, leaves dropping in my basket from the trees above and the smell of fresh rain in the air. All I could think was, “Auntie Em, Auntie Em” as I quoted from the famous movie of another midwestern utopia town.
Slow down was the message here. Enjoy the little things, spend the day chatting with the people down the street or strolling along the lake. Take a library book out to the patio and relax in the sun with an ice tea. Let the brain go…stop. Enjoy people, enjoy you.
It seems contrary to my normal message of get out there, see the world, so little time, go go go. And it is…to be sure. This is why it was so difficult to write this, why it is so hard to do. But try sometimes, to stop along the road you’re running on, smell the roses, enjoy the day, the hour the minute…..the journey.
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