Made in the Shade
At the beginning of a late-afternoon summer walk, I lingered on a patch of asphalt where the bike path begins.
Branches of elm and maple, miraculously left undisturbed notwithstanding their proximity to neighborhood businesses, barely kissed each other more than thirty feet overhead. The green canopy of leaves sent the temperature fifteen to twenty degrees cooler than it was on the nearby sidewalk.
This simple recognition gave me a new goal. While I continued my walk, with no particular destination in mind, I now had an intention. I wanted to locate places in my neighborhood that freely give off shade.
With so much news about global warming and the inescapability of record-breaking temps, the question seemed important.
I asked myself, Where can shade be found?
I noticed finding shade:
- Behind the playground apparatus at West River Park.
- Under the high wall near the tennis courts.
- Behind the stadium bleachers at Holmgren Athletic Complex.
- Under the umbrella of Elena’s torta carte where she sells sandwiches and iced bottled water to the boys playing soccer.
- Under the gazebo at Ravenswood Park.
- Off the back of the truck where the heavily tattooed eighteen year-old and his uncle sells peaches.
- Behind the last garage on my alley, caddy corner from the body shop where no one should be working on a Sunday but often do.
- On my deck, where I’ll sip a cool beverage from a plastic tumbler, underneath a couple hanging planters.
Then I pondered the question in a different way. Where can shade be found?
I considered that:
- To a sun worshipper – shade can be found behind a wide-brimmed straw hat.
- To a child — shade can be found in the silhouette of a water fountain.
- To a pigeon – shade can be found under a discarded cardboard twelve-pack carton.
- To a leaf – shade can be found on the underside of a wooden bench.
There is no absence of shade in my neighborhood.
When you find shade, you can comfort yourself. You can find relief from the heat. You can contemplate the approaching sunset. You can pause to listen or to pick up a pen and write. You can take a long sip from that water bottle you always carry around with you.
Having an awareness of your size and the space you occupy in the world can provide you with clues on where you can find shade for yourself.
Knowing the time of day by shadows cast instead of by digital display changes your understanding of time. It can make its passing more concrete.
Taking a long walk close to home can put the sun in perspective, and that’s no small thing.
Re-printed with permission.
Deborah Hawkins has been blogging on gratitude and mindfulness for over a decade, posting over 500 essays. In December of 2019, she brought out two books, The Best of No Small Thing — Mindful Meditations, a collection of favorite blogs, and Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life — Making the Uplifting Experience of Gratitude Intentional, a workbook on her process. Through her books, classes, and coaching, she teaches people how to identify things to be grateful for in everyday experiences.
Visit Deborah at: Visit No Small Thing