You get to know things better when they go by slow

There’s a line in an old Poi Dog Pondering song (“The Ancient Egyptians”) that always sticks with me; the singer, Frank Orrall, is explaining to his friends, who keep asking him why they can’t just take a bus or a car, the reason he prefers not to: “No, no, no, didn’t you know, you get to know things better when they go by slow…” Right on, Frank! In this anonymous world of air conditioning and motor cars it can be hard to get a good sense of just how the world around us works, and we need to be able to slow down from time to time to remain sane.

Well, I say we. I can only speak for myself, I suppose.

In this slow-things-down vein, our family unit went on a couple of walks this weekend, for the first time in a while. All three of us were present for Saturday morning’s stroll; this meant that when we saw something fun, we were able to snap a picture:

It’s amazing what you can see when you just take the time; things come right up to you. We always take as much time as we can just to look at things on these strolls. Well, as much time as Eric lets us:

He and his bus sometimes get impatient:

But even under the time constraints of an almost-two-year-old’s attention span, it’s possible to see things you haven’t noticed before. For instance, there’s a seagrape tree along our route; Saturday morning Mom was fascinated by the different colors of the leaves: some shiny green, some mottled with rust. It appeared that the newest leaves were shimmery red, then bright green as they got older, and then when they were really old (or just damaged by the cold snap in January?) they get “rusty”:

I’m not sure that’s how Coccoloba uvifera actually behave, here, but it’s something to keep in mind as we walk around, and to keep an eye on for future reference.

When we go on these strolls, we never go very far, and we never go very fast, but these walks aren’t about physical fitness. They’re more about renewing our connection with the neighborhood, trying to establish a sense of place in this all-too-anonymous world. Getting to know things better…

Sunday morning’s stroll was just the lad and me, and his buggy made three. We went around the familiar neighborhood, but without Mom, I couldn’t take pictures. And, of course, when you can’t do something, you really wish you could. For the first time in years, it seems, the Spot-breasted Oriole that lives down the street was in a fairly open tree, with the light just about right for photography. If only Mom had been with us, Dad might could have been able to get a picture. Oh, well.

And a little later on, I saw something I hadn’t seen before in the neighborhood: two hummingbirds, high in a flowering tree. They weren’t thrilled to be together; one of them chased the other one off with an angry buzz, but I was happy just to see the two of them, even though I didn’t have my binoculars and was unable to identify them to species. They’re rarer than I’d have thought here in la Florida, at least in my neck of the woods.

Take it easy!