‘What’s new’ depends on one’s perspective

“What’s new?”

Cossetted comfortably beneath the slow mood, slow food drape that descends over Vashon in the fall, I find I have a stock answer to that question. “Not much.”

However, meandering up the road on a morning walk accompanied by the dog, I considered the question with more awareness. After all, our son, who has been away for school, would be coming down this same road in 24 hours, seeing it with fresh eyes for the first time in two-and-a-half months. I had answered him several times with the “not much” response, but I thought in anticipation of his Thanksgiving homecoming I would survey all with fresh eyes of my own to validate my mantra.

Of course, the verdant green of trees that stand and whisper about things as we walk has changed to a sky full of gold. The roadway, potholes recently filled, is littered with leaves. But that is expected.

Off to the left, two little alpacas have joined the menagerie of our huge-hearted neighbors, who hoped the pair would cheer up their lonesome llama. They stare back with a startled, Suessical expression that makes me laugh. I stop to consider the dog that had four legs just two months ago and now runs confidently with three. His new coat is more striking than the fact he’s a canine tripod.

A big tree has fallen in front of the cabin of the sometimes summer people. They’ve been notified. It barely missed a fence, but did no harm.

Newish residents behind us have added a second horse and changed the fence line, two largish changes that are hard to miss. And events have transpired with the lovely blondes who live on either side of us. One lost her first two baby teeth, the other a favorite beau. But those things aren’t immediately apparent until you don’t get the expected smile.

I wonder if my son will notice we finished spreading that truckload of garden bark. That his bathroom is sparkling clean. That his bed is made. That there are tears in my eyes when he jumps out of the truck. I conclude that changes continuously tiptoe in and drift down even when you don’t notice.

So to embrace “what’s new,” I will back him up to the door frame and most likely reach up higher than ever to mark-off another half-inch of what’s new with him.


— Margaret Heffelfinger is a freelance writer, artist and mother who lives on Vashon.


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