“This is not pudding”, and other substitutions: Week 13

I’m back!

Well, I didn’t go anywhere, but I also haven’t been writing. I’ve decided that writing these posts on the same day of a hike/the day after is not working for me. Especially the last few weeks when the hikes have happened on Sundays or even during the week. So, to help pace myself, I’ll be writing week 13 during week 14, and continue the trend going forward.

But about the pudding. If you’ve seen the live action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, you may recognize the statement made by an elderly Who, during the Who Pudding Cook Off, that what he was shoving in Jim Carey’s mouth was not in fact pudding. The Grinch is quoted in my household year round, and most conversations are quickly connected back to the movie. This is in large part because Bryce does a spot-on Jim Carey impression, which I find absolutely hilarious every time. (Well, nearly every time… I get bad cases of hangry.) So as I set out for a bike ride instead of a hike this week, all I could think was “this is not pudding”. But I, unlike the Grinch, was totally okay with that!

In fact, I would argue that I excel in substituting alternatives when the need arises. For instance, I almost never have what I need to cook/bake the recipes I find online, but I substitute and alter the directions and most of it comes out delicious! These skills help when the weather turns south and I need to find a different hike, activity, or campsite, and when my days don’t go as planned. That’s what happened this week. I had planned to go on a hike on Mother’s Day (my mom was busy), but a good friend needed help through something, and hiking was not a part of that.

So instead, I continued my exploration of substitutions on the Snohomish County Centennial trail.

– Week 13 –

Pretty weed that was somehow taking over the blackberries.

On Wednesday this week, I sat at my desk, four hours into a 14 hour day, and felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. It had been a beautiful week, and I was itching to get outside. Thankfully, on Wednesdays I have a lot of flexibility in my work schedule (the perks of working from home) so I decided to take an extra long lunch and get outside!

The Centennial trail runs from the city of Snohomish up to the Skagit county line, passing through a valley of beautiful farm land. It’s a nice paved trail and almost completely flat, (very rare for Washington!) so I decided to take my bike out for the first ride of the year. Now, I realize that this is objectively not a hike, but my life is 100% not objective. In fact, I feel that one of the most spectacular aspects of the human condition is that literally everything we experience is subjective. We can try to consider information from alternative or unbiased perspectives, but everything we see and hear, any information we take in, is interpreted by a brain that has learned from our life experiences. So, objectively not a hike, subjectively, I’m counting it.

I thought about this concept a lot on my 12 mile jaunt. Take for instance, this pond:


Objectively, this is the water reservoir for the neighboring gravel pit. Subjectively, it was a beautiful pond full of geese. Substitutions at their finest. You could also take this barn and its unusual grass pattern:


Objectively, this is just grass mowed in a weird way. Subjectively, it provoked this sort of magical feeling. I could see someone walking up that aisle, I could hear music playing, I could picture what they might be wearing. I personally found the substitution much more intriguing than just “weird grass”.

Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, (though most people are surprised by how many I haven’t seen) and I’ve definitely been called naive, but I think being able to see the world from this perspective is what keeps me going some days. It makes the mundane magical, and the familiar fantastic.

I’m usually not an avid biker. The seats are too uncomfortable, and my knees don’t usually like the motion, but I found some form of nirvana on this ride. My knees felt fluid and in sync, my muscles were warm and happy, and after 9 miles I felt like I could go forever! Unfortunately, I had about 10 hours of work and school left for the day, so I limited my ride to 12 miles (much longer than my usual). It was a pleasure getting to spend part of my day outside in the warming spring air, to smell the freshly cut grass and blooming fruit trees, and get some peaceful time outside to myself in the middle of what turned out to be a hectic week.


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