San Clemente palms

Local Appreciation Society

“The grass is always greener,” they say.

I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” have truly made up dozens of extended quotes that start with that featured statement. Most of us know that the grass isn’t actually greener: it just looks that way depending on our situation and that of the person whose yard we’re coveting. Many of us know that if we took care of and appreciated our own grass, it would be just as green. Actually, that’s where I’ll be heading here.

I have a fascination with palm trees. It’s so intense that anytime I’m in an area of the country where they grow, it becomes a compulsion for me to take pictures of them constantly. Do I need hundreds of palm tree pictures? No. But they make me very happy, just like my collection of beach and ocean pictures.

When I was in California last week, I was out and about doing the touristy things and was hyper-aware of the locals I saw who were walking around aimlessly, going about their business, not even noticing the palm trees and the rest of the gorgeous scenery that surrounded them. This awareness boiled over and made me the slightest bit cranky (at others) the day I had to visit Target for a couple of essentials. I saw regular Southern California residents pushing carts between the store and the parking lot, not even glancing at the palms right outside the door. NOT EVEN GLANCING AT THEM.

Target palms
I mean, look at those folks just casually going about their business.

Naturally I came to the realization that I wasn’t being fair. After all, I’m a Chicago native and I was in my thirties by the time I could really say that I was appreciating so much of what my city has to offer. Before then I took it for granted because it was all in the background for me.

When Jim and I were first married, we lived in Norfolk, Virginia, which is just a few minutes from Virginia Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. In nearly three years of living there, I visited that beach less than five times. Why? I have no idea. Stupidity, maybe? (More likely, I was very busy with college and work. But still.)

Now that we live in Knoxville, we are taking advantage of lots of local activities. We go downtown all the time and we’re regulars at the food trucks. We see concerts and other live shows. We make the drive up to Great Smoky Mountain National Park when we can, and we often take day trips to all of the great cities to which we have easy access from here. Hashtag local appreciation society!

Can you say that you fully appreciate the special features of the area where you live? If not, why? And when will you begin?

Life is much nicer when we stop and take in what’s around us. That includes making the most of what’s available to us at any given moment: scenery, food, activities, people, and everything else. Now get out there and enjoy!