It was one of those absolutely fabulously gorgeous September days we are so blessed with here in the Pacific Northwest...it helps make up for the endless soggy gray skies that seem to settle over us towards the end of October and, with few breaks in between, seem to hang around until...oh...July. The boys arrived at 5:25 so by 8 am they were more than ready to head out on our morning walk. I bundled them into the double stroller and away we went, heading in a roundabout way to Fred Meyer. I'd told my son I needed diapers and why for the life of me he bought diapers for Cooper only, I have no idea. I had maybe half a dozen left for Dylan, so luckily the day was bright and brilliant and away we went. I couldn't find my tube of Desitin, either, and with two diaper-wearers in the house you can't survive without Desitin, the wonder diaper rash healer.
There is an adult foster care home a few blocks down our street. The residents have multiple physical and mental handicaps and most of them have been there for several years. Quite often thru the nicer months of the year we'll see a bunch of them come wheeling down the street on their own or being pushed by the various caretakers the home employs. As I passed by this morning I heard a voice call out to me, "Good Morning!" as I pushed the stroller along. I looked over and saw one of the men and I waved and called back, "Good Morning to you, too! How are you this morning?" His face broke out into a huge smile and he said, "I'm HAPPY!" "And why are you so happy?" I asked. "Because you were nice and said "Good Morning" back to me!" he said. Ahhhh, if only the rest of the world could be so easily made happy, eh? It sure makes up for the ones who take their "grumpy pills"...the ones who stare right thru you or will look at you but not return your greeting. There are those out there in the world, too, but like I tell Dylan, it's their loss. Saying "Good Morning!" with a smile on your face makes you feel good, anyway. At least it does me. The old grumps aren't going to ruin my day.
Another 20 blocks or so brought us to the Chicken Man's house. It's an old stucco home on a corner lot that had been empty for a long time. I'd say around 5 years ago I noticed someone had moved in and was beginning to do some slow renovations...nothing fancy, just enough to make it livable. And whoever it was also has a green thumb...plants and flowers are everywhere. A big vegetable garden, too. I think it was around a year or so ago I noticed chickens in a fenced area of the yard and pointed them out to Dylan so everytime we go to the library or anywhere over in that area we stop to look at the chickens from the street. Several months ago the gentleman who owns the home now happened to be outside sweeping his sidewalk and I struck up a conversation with him. He's kind of an eccentric left-over hippie-type guy but very nice. He got a big bang out of the fact that Dylan loves his chickens so much. When I had my surgery I wasn't able to push the stroller that far for a while after I began caring for both the boys. The first time we passed by on our way to the library I didn't see the chickens anywhere so I kind of wondered if someone might've killed them...or maybe he'd slaughtered them himself. But a week or so later we passed by there again and this time I spotted a new coop way back in a far corner of his lot. The chickens are all there, and Dylan was back to doing his chicken-watching from the sidewalk tho they weren't quite as easy to see from that vantage point as they had been before. This morning, as luck would have it, the gentleman came outside, getting ready to go somewhere, and spotted us there on the sidewalk. He came over and told me, "Let that little fella out of that crate and let him go pet a chicken!" I was afraid if I let Dylan out of the stroller near the chickens I'd never persuade him to get back in, so I pushed the stroller in to the coop and let him watch the chickens that way instead. The man told us to go up to the coop any time we wanted to and then he peered in at Dylan and asked him, "Hey there, young man. You want a couple of eggs?" and he went over and gathered up two fresh eggs and brought them over to my grandson, placing them gently in Dylan's hands. You would've thought he was handing Dylan gold, the way Dylan cupped them in his hands and gazed down on them. I don't think that gentleman realized just what a gift he gave to my little guy.
My grandsons and I are such a common sight wandering around our area in Portland. Store clerks, employees in businesses we pass, people who live in houses along the way...they greet us. We stop and chat with them. Garbage men know us and honk their horns and wave. The local fire fighters at our neighborhood station make a big deal out of Dylan every time we stop by and give him Honorary Fire Fighter stickers. And, when I've had problems like the day Dylan couldn't walk any further, a bartender lady at a bar along the way came over and helped me figure out a way to get him and Cooper home in a single stroller. We know a lot of dogs by name and stop to say hello as we pass them by. And it thrills me. I want my grandsons to know that this isn't such a big impersonal world, that if we brighten the corner where we are by being friendly and nice to everyone, most people will respond in a like manner. One word most people who've been asked use to describe me is "nice". That used to bother me...it sounded so bland and about as exciting as vanilla pudding. But, as I go along in life, nice really isn't such a bad label to be branded with after all.