Noticings – Big and Tiny

Book-of-Noticing-Final-sm2For my December Afterthought, I wrote about an essay collection that has been speaking to me – The Book of Noticing by Katherine Hauswirth.  Katherine is a fellow author with Homebound Publications, and although we’ve never met, I feel a kinship with her through her writing about paying close attention. For Katherine, that attentiveness is especially strong on walks in her home state of Connecticut, and reading her observations deepens my understanding of a landscape far from my home.

Stefan Freelan, Western Washington University

In the winter, walking near my home on the Salish Sea is not always enjoyable, or comfortable. There’s often rain, sometimes soaking through my rain-resistant jacket; wind whipping up white caps in the bays; and temperatures in the 30s and 40s that feel much colder in their dampness. But, the dog insists, and I need the scent of the sea, the air on my cheeks, and the stretch of my legs. Dips into Katherine’s essays remind me to keep my head up and eyes open to notice what’s around.

As I explained in my last post, I often fail at such attentiveness. That’s hard to admit as a writer, though I know my writing (and my spirit) benefits from those moments on my treks when my mind wanders, I daydream, or I wrestle with questions.

But still. I’ve vowed to exercise my noticing muscles, and I’ve delighted in some of the results. Since you weren’t with me as I spotted these intriguing sights, I’m posting a few photos from the first day of 2018. My husband, our daughter and her boyfriend, and I welcomed the new year on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula (the REAL ocean). I could include dozens of images of the waves, the wind blowing the sand, jaw-dropping sunsets, and shorebirds chasing the receding water. beach.jpgAnd, there was much more to notice when I took the time to take in everything around me.



Noticing these was easy – and a great joy.

I decided to pay close attention on our walk in Cape Disappointment State Park, and spotted shapes, colors, textures, and surprises I might have missed otherwise.



bent tree.jpg

coast guard.jpg



Sine the second week of January, though, there’s one bit of noticing I’ve had no trouble making time for, even though it’s from afar. On January 8, I became a grandmother for the first time with the birth of a daughter to my son and daughter-in-law. They live in Chicago, so I won’t be able to hold her for a few more weeks, but I never tire of paying attention to sights like this:


I’m not sure what’s more remarkable: the serenity of her face, the curve of her ear lobe, or the pooch of her upper lip from nursing. Or the awareness that she’s asleep on the chest of my son.

Seems fitting that my granddaughter’s middle name is Katherine.




  1. WOW Iris. Thanks for the mention!! I too, fail to really observe closely at times. It seems I must often remind myself! Maybe we write the books we need. EXCELLENT middle name your granddaughter has 🙂 I got my own “Katherine” to honor my beloved grandmother. So happy for you and STILL enjoying Hiking Naked. I am somewhere past the flooding and loving every moment! you have been keeping me co. on exercise bike!

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