We're back in Bellingham, WA, our home base. We usually come back for our medical check ups, renewing our prescriptions, getting fresh clothing, and visiting friends and family. Drive out to the middle of the state to visit my brother who gets our mail - so we pick up the collected mail, sort, save anything important. And then we head out on new adventures.
But this year seems to be a bit slower than usual. Most of our medical people seem to be on summer vacation. The town has grown and it's getting harder and harder to get the medical appointments. And we're trying to take care of Richard's back issue, but the spinal specialist in town is changing from one practice to another, so we're waiting for him to get to the new place and begin seeing patients again. While of course seeing our usual doctors, and trying to find someone who can at least prescribe physical therapy or something.
Yeah, it has been slow.
But Bellingham is a beautiful place to be in during the summer. The long rainy fall-winter-spring turns into glorious warm dry summer days filled with incredible flowers from all of that rain the rest of the year. The sky is usually blue blue blue, and the trees are filled leafy green backdrops for all of the flowers and berries.
So we're enjoying our very relaxing time here in town.
Bellingham is decidedly quirky. Or at least full of quirky people. My favorite supermarket decorates with life-sized plastic cows and calves. I'm not sure why. They've had the plastic cattle for a few years now, and move them around to different displays. Just their thing, I guess. I particularly like the calf out in the flower area.
The entire entrance to this supermarket is like an Impressionist garden. The outer area is something like Monet's garden, a profusion of flowers that blur into spots of color amongst the greenery, but minus the waterlilies. Closer to the door is a collection of van Gogh's sunflowers, welcoming shoppers and looking much more cheerful that van Gogh's vaguely depressed sunflowers.
Instead of the waterlily pond, we have a series of watering cans creating a garden center fountain. Not a water-shooting-upwards fountain, just watering cans on a stepped wall, so one spout pours water into the lower can, which feeds into the next one, and so on.
Today, I was watching a crow who decided this was the perfect drinking fountain for him. Nice dry handle for his feet as he leaned over and sipped the lovely fresh water. He was funny to watch!
And yes, the entire garden area of this supermarket has small café tables and chairs, some tables with umbrellas, so shoppers can buy food and sit outside having a meal or snack. Inside the store is one of the ubiquitous Starbucks - this is Washington state, after all, home of the original Starbucks down in Seattle. We drink our coffee dark, needing caffeine to keep our eyes open in the dark rainy days of winter. But a cup of iced caramel macchiatto (with nonfat milk and sugar-free syrup), maybe a bran muffin from the store bakery, and then a table in the sun out in the garden - it's my urban Bellingham answer to a sidewalk café. I read, or people watch, or crow watch. It really is quite pleasant.
There also are "dog parking" eye hooks set up around the seating area, so shoppers can tie their dogs securely, and the dogs can wait in a covered area for their people. (There's also a central sort of fireplace to heat this area during the colder months.) As I said, this town tends to the quirky.
I think the profusion of flowers is the local reaction to that long dark wet fall-winter-spring period. Really, things stay very green here (it is the Evergreen State). But spring through summer is the time for COLOR! Bulb flowers like crocuses and tulips, flowering trees (all those apples and cherries), rhododendrons and azaleas. Right now, sunflowers, dahlias, and gladiolas are everywhere. And clumps of lavender perfuming the air.
My dentist's place has the most gorgeous periwinkle-blue hydrangeas out in front. He lives and works in a huge old house, built some time in the late 1800s I believe. The building is actually on the National Register of Historic places, and is beautiful. How many people visit the dentist in a building that is over 100 years old, filled with incredible woodwork, tiles, stained or leaded glass windows, and fireplaces? Carved banisters leading to the residence upstairs, complete with bay windows? Views of the marina and the bay from the treatment room windows? Yeah, I don't mind visiting the dentist at all.
So, in this slow (slow) summer, we do exciting things. Pick up lunch at the supermarket and find a park, sit in the sun and eat and read. Walk around the forest and take a nature break. (The Japanese call this nature bathing.) Or meet up with friends and have lunch by the marina, watching the boats come and go, the Alaska ferry unload or load up for the next voyage. Our favorite ferry to Victoria no longer leaves from Bellingham, but we may head up there at some point between all this medical stuff.
Mostly, we're relaxing and enjoying being here. Catching up with friends and family. Enjoying this town that describes itself as the "little city of subdued excitement."
And shopping for fresh clothing, because when we travel with a limited wardrobe, clothes truly get worn out. Worn through. (Yes, I probably enjoy the shopping part much more than Richard does.)
But my favorite part of summer? August is my birthday month, so it's full of celebrations as I meet up with all those friends and the family members, and we commemorate one more year around the sun. Much food and chocolate, many hugs, lots of conversation and laughter. Because with all of our travelling, and our living a very pared down life in terms of belongings, we've come to realize and truly appreciate that the most important things in life are experiences and relationships. That truly is what life is all about.
So we're enjoying that, above all. That is a huge part of why we come back to home base each summer, to see Richard's family and my family, to see as many of our friends as we can. To maintain those relationships. To experience the friendship and love.
To celebrate life, and each friendship, and each year around the sun.