Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.  -  John Ruskin
A folk art frog, spotted in a friend's garden. 

Good morning!

I am Hugh Hollowell, and this is Life is So Beautiful, a newsletter about finding the beautiful when it's hard to - and maybe especially when it's hard to.

I went for a walk this morning.

That isn’t unusual these days – I have been walking most days since the middle of March as part of my decision to take control of my health. I’m sleeping better, eating better, and have lost about 33 pounds. But the main benefits I get from my daily walk aren’t physical – they are mental.

I walk the same path every day – it is almost exactly 2 and a half miles, and takes 41 minutes to do, give or take a minute or two each way, depending on heat and where my mind is at the moment, and sometimes, whether I run into anyone else along the way. As I said, I’ve done it nearly daily since the middle of March, and regularly last year while hiding from the rest of the world and the Coronavirus that was hunting us all, and is now killing off the unvaccinated.

At this point, I have walked this path off and on for more than a year.

Walking is a very different way of moving in an environment, and I posit that one really doesn’t know a place until you have walked through it a number of times, preferably at different times of the year.

There is a house that is vocal in their support of the former President, and another with an Airstream and a wildlife habitat sign in the front yard while their chicken coop peeks over the fence, while another has the yard with the new sun garden that was the reaction to the loss of the shade when the storm took out their trees, the house with the hedge of knockout roses, the one with a wall of azaleas that blooms all of March and into April.

It had rained last night, cooling us down dramatically – today is forecast to be 17 degrees cooler than yesterday – but had stopped when I finished breakfast, so I laced up my shoes and went for a walk. Almost at the halfway mark, the rain started back, slowly at first, and then harder and harder, until I was soaked by the time I returned home.

But I toweled off and changed clothes and made myself a large cup of coffee and realized that it was probably my best walk in ages. Watching the raindrops slide down the leaves, seeing the birds dance in the puddles, seeing the roses bounce as the raindrops hit them… It was like I suddenly knew even more about a place I knew very well.

A lot of things we think that we know, we really only know under one context. Changing the context is a simple hack for learning something new, and discovering a whole new world in the process.

Five Beautiful Things

  • An Instagram of beautiful chickens. (File that under things I have never said before)
  • A tearful first live rehearsal of the cast of The Lion King, back after 16 months away, singing Circle of Life. This is everything.
  • A McDonald’s commercial from 1970, featuring psychedelic music, creepy dancing clowns, a hamburger garden, and a field growing fries with eyes. It was a different time, my friends.  
  • A thing I love about this newsletter is how I get introduced to things I never knew existed. Like, American Freestyle Canoeing. Imagine ballet, but in canoes.
  • These photos of people who have lived to be older than 100, side by side with photos of their younger self. Again, context changes everything.
* * *

Well, that is it for this week. I hope you have a great week, and that your life is filled with beautiful things. If you see something beautiful this week, I hope you will let me know about it, and if one of my five I shared today struck you in a special way, I hope you will let me know about that, too.

If you want to support this project, you can sign up to be a Patron or buy me a book or throw me some cash or, especially, forward this email to your friends. And if someone did forward this to you, you can get your own subscription here.

Take care of yourself. And each other. 

Hugh Hollowell Jr

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