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Nearly every weekday morning now, Libbie and I go have breakfast with our neighbors. They are in their early 70s, retired, and have blessed our socks off since we moved into the neighborhood. It’s an old neighborhood, and they’ve lived in their house more than 40 years.

It’s wonderful for Libbie, who loves being outside, climbing all over their patio furniture, and looking for their cat, Bo. Often we walk up to the garden we’ve planted together a few houses down.

Mostly, I just let Libbie run around as I sip coffee and watch the plethora of birds that come to their feeders. (Also, I’ve never seen as many chipmunks as I have since we moved to Chattanooga!) (I ran over one. I’ve never in 12 years killed a living thing while driving!)

Growing up, we lived in the woods. Ours was a new neighborhood–my parents had our house built–and we had a good lot with woods in the back that led to a small creek. Ashley and I spent enormous amounts of time outside playing “orphan girls”: making mud pies, pretending to eat holly berries, climbing a felled tree, crossing the creek.

When we were studying Walden in high school, my English teacher asked us to spend a half-hour observing nature and write down what we saw. I just knew my house was the perfect space from which to do this, as I’d spent my entire life seeing turtles find the backyard, having our dog bark at every squirrel that crossed the lawn, and watching birds flock to the feeders.

I convinced my friend Marcy to make what was a pretty long trip* to my house because I was so sure we’d have all sorts of wildlife to write about.

We sat outside. We did not see ONE. LIVING. CREATURE. We had to make up some blather about the existentialism of not seeing any forest creatures in, well, the middle of the forest.

I wonder if Thoreau had days like that.

Eleven years later, it still makes me laugh. Did you ever have a school assignment turn comical? (Maybe next time I should write about the Julius Caesar puppet show we did freshman year.)

*I went to a magnet high school that drew from areas all over Richmond, so Marcy did live about 45 minutes away. It was kind of a stinker for making friends!

2 thoughts on “Not-So-Very-Walden

  1. I'm sure I've had assignments turn comical, but nothing's coming to mind. It IS funny that you didn't see any animals that day, though!! 🙂

    (Oh, and what a bummer about the chipmunk!)

  2. Isn't it funny how little people always want to play orphans? I spent many a warm afternoon playing in trees, imagining myself parentless, as if it was something good to be desired. Crazy childhood.

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