Walking in August: Of Sparkles and Shorelines

One of the things I love about the location of our house in Olympia is our close proximity to water. Our habit of walking to the farmers' market and downtown on weekends takes us around Budd Bay, for starters. 

One of these weekends in August we also strolled along the boardwalk, known as the Percival Landing Trail. We took our coffee to a bench where we could watch sailing classes of kids trying to round buoys and occasionally bumping into each other in their little Sunfish boats. The sun sparkled on the wavetops like dancing diamonds. 

I made special note of that sparkle as a contribution to the list I would be writing in my journal entry for the day under the heading "Today's delights". Since reading Ross Gay's work The Book of Delights I've been making a point of looking every day for those moments that make me pause and experience a flash of delight. 

For a long time I've believed that I find what I'm looking for and this practice confirms that sense of how my brain works (and possibly yours, too). Rob Walker's book The Art of Noticing gave me plenty of ideas of things I might choose to notice. Layering on noticing delights gives each day its own sparkle, like what I saw on those wavetops past the dock.

For a walking meeting (which oxygenates my brain and improves my focus on the content under discussion), I headed through Squaxin Park to reach the bay. When I take this particular path I don't check the tide table first so I never know whether I'm going to find high water or low. 

This spot has a little pond that gets recharged when the water is high. On this particular day the water was low. The gravelly sandbar I walked out onto was covered with freshly broken shells, telling me the birds had been feasting. Best part? Many of them had an intact half shell—so much more fun to play with. When I find an intact shell I'm a kid again, delighting in finding something rare and special.

I collected a handful and created one of the "art installations" I leave occasionally on my walks. I pick up leaves or stones or shells that catch my eye, carry them with me until I reach a likely spot, and arrange them into some kind of pattern. Imagining someone encountering one of these unexpectedly gives me a little ping of delight thinking about the ping of delight they might feel in that moment.

I walked back up from that little pond and down another trail to reach a different section of beach. As I neared the beach four happy dogs went tearing past, romping playfully. An animal's joy is pure delight—one more entry for the journal.

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