The Grass is Not Greener On the Other Side of the Sidewalk

Life lessons from a rainy morning stroll

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This past month, due to construction work at our home, we rented a house in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle.  Since COVID-19 shut down our annual family vacation, we were excited for this little get away from our home, even if it was just a short 40-minute drive away from where we typically reside. 

The trendy Queen Anne neighborhood is in the heart of Seattle.  It is known as a “walker’s paradise”.  Because our family home is located in an area where the walking score is quite low, we thought it would be fun to spend some time in a location where we were in walking distance to small coffee shops and fabulous restaurants.  Queen Anne is a neighborhood where at any given time of the day people are seen walking, jogging and riding their bikes. 

After we moved in, I happily realized that I had a number of friends who lived in the neighborhood.  On one morning, a girlfriend and I arranged for a morning walk.  We met at 7:30 AM at the locally owned Ken’s Market, an iconic Queen Anne neighborhood business. Even though it was the summer month of July, it was a relatively cold and wet July morning.  I put on my tennis shoes, leggings, and a warm hoodie as I set out to meet my girlfriend. 

The early morning walk was with a girlfriend who is one of those rare souls that leaves you feeling smarter simply because of the time you spent with her.  Conversations are both fun and thoughtful with her.  She has a way of progressing a conversation that makes you know that you are being listened to. 

Given that it was her neighborhood that we were walking in, she designed the path we would take.  I was touched that she intentionally chose a route that would allow her to share a bit of history of the neighborhood with me.  As we walked, she pointed out historical facts and information about the history of some of the grand houses and streets that we passed.  Her thoughtfulness in making this walk an opportunity to learn about the neighborhood, reminded me that she makes even the smallest of life’s moments meaningful.

While I thought the route that she chose was thoughtful, what really surprised me is what happened during our walk.  Several times, she stopped to pick up tiny snails that had to be no more than 2 centimeters in length to move them off the sidewalk and over to the grass, worried that someone may not see them or see them but not care whether or not they stepped on them as they walked past. By the time she reached the third snail, who I’ll refer to as, “Lenny”, I thought, “This isn’t normal.”  What causes someone to notice such a small creature, stop in the rain to bend down to pick up a snail and move it to safety?   I didn’t ask, but I imagine that she was the girl in grade school who noticed when other kids were struggling and took care to be extra kind to them.

That simple morning walk reminded me to notice those around me who I may not normally see.   I was also reminded that a simple act could change a life forever. And, when I saw what Lenny could not see, as he was making his trek from the front lawn of a home to the parking strip grass, the grass was not greener on the other side – a great lesson from observing a tiny snail, appreciate the beauty of where in life we are right now. 

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