The Magic of First Experiences

We always get a day like today in Washington DC once fall sets in for a stay. The sky goes very blue, and the winds start up, scattering brown leaves all over the streets. I usually have to stop visiting any parks at this point because there are so many leaves on the ground that I can’t see tree roots or rocks that would cause my ankle to turn.

But streets are fine because they’re always nice and flat, even when it’s a hill. I’m not going to find a tree root poking up in the middle of the street.

So I picked this one street and followed it, looking at the houses and watching the squirrels dash around in search of nut prizes to bury. There was this one garden next to the sidewalk. Nothing spectacular, but it was bordered by white quartz.

It reminded me of when my family first moved into the house I grew up in, the Los Angeles suburbs. I had to be in kindergarten, so a lot of things I saw were still firsts and new experiences to me. At that point, I’d lived in an apartment, so a house was a new thing.

It was a slab house (concrete base; no basement), and stucco, which was common in Los Angeles. Painted Pepto Bismal pink, and still is. It might have been two bedrooms at one time and had an attached garage converted into a master bedroom. The master bedroom had that garage shape and a strange built in working surface that seemed more for tool tinkering than for a bedroom.

The backyard was huge. Not like the postage stamp-sized ones so small it’s hard to garden. This backyard was big enough that we could have put a swimming pool in if we’d wanted. At the time, behind the house was a gigantic vacant lot that stayed that way for quite a few years. Now it’s a bunch of condos.

Anyway, the yard consisted of a small hill in the back with a stand of paddle cactus, a century cactus, a stand of bamboo, and a whole lot of tall, yellow grass. Los Angeles is always in draught, so when it rains, the grass grows really fast, then goes yellow and dies. When I walked through, the grass would always leave little rocket ships of foxgloves in my socks, which are how it moves seeds around.

And, of course, this vast backyard, was something to be explored. So I’m on a mission into the unknown to find out what was out there, and I discovered treasure!

It was kind of a dirty yellow crystal, scattered all throughout the yard. In hindsight of experience, the crystal was probably a quartz used as part of a garden. I remember bits of concrete stuck to some of the pieces. But I’d never seen anything like it before, so it was part of the adventure of exploring and discovery.

As adults, I think we sometimes forget that there are things that still need to be discovered, even if it’s a new experience that we haven’t had that just shakes us up a little and gives us something new. There’s still room for a lot of firsts, even if it is just seeing a black squirrel for the first time or watching the leaf truck suck up leaves.

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