There’s this one line I love from one of T.S Eliot’s poems, and it goes, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” Now that the summer is coming to an end, I realize that I have been measuring out this season and the passing of the past 5 months not with coffee spoons, but instead with my daily neighbourhood walks.
In my neighbourhood, there’s a circular path you can follow, which has been the route for my daily walks. Walking one lap is a little over 1.5km. I remember on the second day I got back from my exchange at the end of March, I was so eager to be outside, breathing in the cold fresh air, that I walked 4 laps, which is the equivalent of almost 7 km. After that day, the habit of going on my walk hasn’t left and for 5 months, I’ve been walking that same circular route. I’ll see the same people and their dogs, the same houses and yards. Most days, I’ll do the full 4 laps but on some days, I’ll do 2 or 3. I can’t even begin to count the total number of steps I’ve done or even the total number of kilometres I’ve walked since March.
It wasn’t until the past few weeks that I realize how integral that neighbourhood walk has become to my daily routine, and to my life over the past five months. I realized that I witnessed the passage of time through my daily walks, within the bubble of that circular path. My walks took me through Sunday to Sunday, one day at a time. My walks took me from the below 0 weather and the snow in March, to the 35-degree humidity in July. I saw the trees when they were barren and then watched as day by day, they grew their leaves and came alive. And just the other day, I saw them begin to shed again, as we head into Fall. I started to recognize the little changes — planted flowers, patio furniture, a greener lawn — in front of the houses. I got used to seeing a mom and her child reading by their main window in the mornings or saying hi to a couple that would sit outside their door every evening, enjoying the breeze.
I realized that I barely noticed how familiar it had all grown to be, until it was familiar.
I realized that I had barely noticed any of these things in the moment, until I did.
Just a few days ago, my family moved to a new house further up north and on the day that the moving truck finally came to our old house, I did one last lap (a farewell lap), with a coffee in hand and no music or podcasts but only the sound of the wind in my ear, to enjoy what was probably my last walk in the neighbourhood I spent 21 years — my whole life — in. And on that last walk, I passed by a house that always had their dog sitting out in their front yard, behind a fence. But instead of seeing the dog I had gotten so used to seeing, there was a new dog sitting out in the yard. And I wondered, “Who’s this? What happened to the old dog?”
I thought to myself, “So much change has happened in just the past five months”. And I haven’t even seen any of the change that took place behind the closed front door of each house.