Katie and I have settled into a new morning routine: she wakes up (far earlier than I would, perhaps, choose to be awake), we cuddle and coo and stretch for a bit, she eats, I eat, and then I strap her into the Ergo and we walk. Or rather, I walk and she sleeps. It’s a good arrangement for both of us.
We are blessed to live in a beautiful place with plenty of shaded trails and sunny meadows, and so our long morning walks are a delight. I spend an hour or more out in the cool of the day, before the sun is too high in the sky, thinking and praying and enjoying the feel of my little girl snuggled against my chest. It sounds as though I am waxing poetic, but it is true; the birds sing in the trees and the sun peeks through the branches and the wind is soft and gentle on my face. It feels good to stretch my legs and get my heart pumping and this is a wonderful, excellent, beautiful way to start my day. I am so grateful for the luxuries of time and energy that allow it.
I make my way down our steep road to a trail that runs along the highway. With the exception of the mean, growling, menace of a dog at the end of the road who still makes me jump even though I know he is there, it is peaceful, with only the sounds of birds in the trees and small animals in the brush and the occasional passing car on the road to break the quiet.
Eventually, I make my way onto an irrigation ditch trail, far from the sounds of the highway. There are others who walk this path, too – a retired couple, he with a friendly black mutt on a leash, she with a handheld radio blaring a bombastic talk show host, a middle-aged runner with long loose hair and an easy smile, a pair of fit grandmothers who stop me to ooh and aah over the sweet baby girl nestled against me. The grandmothers continue on their way and I hear them ask the retired gentleman if Katie is his grandbaby. He responds with surprise – “She has a baby with her? I didn’t realize she had a baby!” – and I smile. I have passed him twice, once coming and once going, and my front-pack carrier is rather obvious, but perhaps he is so lost in his own thoughts and the beauty of this morning that he did not notice.
There are wildflowers growing here and there along my walk, sweet peas and dandelions and black-eyed susans, but my favorites are the daisies. There’s one spot where they grow in abundance; I round the bend and there they are, hundreds of them on the side of the path, bright and beautiful and cheerful. Daisies are such a happy, friendly flower. I can’t help but smile when I see them.
Though it doesn’t always seem like it’s enough, especially in the midst of sorrow or tragedy, I need this reminder: this same world that holds mass shootings and failed adoptions and debilitating illnesses also has room for long morning walks and friendly smiles and daisies.