The Bleak Outlook

Photo: Bleak HouseDawn comes in fits and starts. Tatters of grey cloud hang diagonally across the bottom quarter of the pale sky ahead as I’m driving away from the warmth of home; as the road swings me southward, that ragged hem rises into an ever darker, flatter cloudbank and it seems I’m reversing time as I go. The world gets smokier looking with every mile.

Have I driven all day, already? It looks less like dawn, more like dusk, every minute. A ground fog is rising from the pavement, narrowing the gap with those shredded clouds in a slow, relentless re-closing of the curtains. Approaching the city, I watch the tops of the towers fade into the growing dark and finally disappear, enveloped.

The rain begins. It’s thin and dirty at first, but with every mile I drive, grows denser, heavier. The whole world around me turns to molten lead. I am driving, now, into a contracting twilit vortex that soon enough will pull me undersea, it seems. I’m grateful to be exiting the freeway, exhausted from gripping the wheel and blinded by the bleary flow of rain that has outpaced the windshield wipers’ meager strength.

The exit ramp swings in a slow, wet arc up and over the freeway to take me back in an east-northeast crawl, and suddenly it’s as though the rainstorm has been turned off and dawn restarted. The last miles to work see no more precipitation except for that being shrugged off of the trees, and daylight brightens at every intersection, with every car’s-length I drive, and then with every foot. The office building is sparkling like a freshly scrubbed, dazzling beacon, haloed by the rising sun.

And as I walk through that phalanx of security arches toward the windowless interior where my work awaits, I go from brilliant morning into the dim, unhealthy crepuscule of artificially lighted night.Digital illustration from a photo: Into Each Life

I Love Cities

Those who visit here with some frequency know that I am mighty fond of the rural landscape and its many, many charms, but it might not be quite as obvious that I am equally smitten, often enough, with the joys of urban life. Some of my happiest times and most exciting and meaningful adventures are attached to various wonderful and fabulous cities where I’ve been privileged to live or spend time.photo + text

Whenever anyone asks me to name my favorite cities where I’ve visited or spent any little amount of time, the first places that come to mind are truly lively, astoundingly adventure-filled places. I’m not big on bravery or constant busyness or the unknown, as you may well know by now, but I always manage to find myself energized and passionate about what these fabulous environs have to offer at every turn. It turns out that there is no shortage of urban places that fill me with dazzling delight. In addition to my hometown of Seattle, there are so many other magnificent cities for me to love wildly, places like Stockholm, Boston, Vienna, San Francisco, Munich, Cincinnati, Oslo, San Antonio, Vancouver, New York, Prague, Chicago, and London—for starters.photo + text

I will always crave my quiet time, and often that’s best found in the sweet, laid-back grace of the countryside, removed from cities’ bustling pace. But besides that it is possible to find moments of peace right in the middle of any major metropolis, if one only knows how and where to look, there is the inherent buzz and boisterous beauty of urban life to enjoy as well, and I am not at all immune to that kind of happiness when I can bask in it. I suppose the root of the whole equation is always, quite simply, to seek my well-being wherever I happen to find myself.