If you, like me, love being outside, then you’d love being here, as I do. “Here” is a place where the sun happily shines out of a cobalt-blue sky roughly 350 days of the year, and every day feels like vacation. “Here” for me is the heart of Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, in the country’s central mountains, where I, gracias a dios, have been able to retire.

To me, being outside, beneath that cobalt sky, among the tall swaying trees, surrounded by Nature’s sounds and colors, is pure freedom. Being “outside the box” – the boxy, confining, and sometimes suffocating walls of houses, classrooms, shops, and offices – is, for me, pure bliss. Lately I’ve been wondering: How did I get like this?

Perhaps it’s true that we experience a second childhood in our older age, especially when retirement provides us with child-like freedoms. Suddenly, it seems, we have time to play again. I can still hear my young mother’s voice clearly in my mind: “Out, out!” she’d gaily say, “go outside and play, kids! Look! God gave you a sunny day! It’s a sin to waste good weather!”

So we’d gladly go – unsupervised – into the woods or fields near our suburban New Jersey home, playing cowgirls or “Indian squaws,” or gathering wild flowers or berries; along the edges of the neighborhood construction sites, picking up discarded chunks of wood to make furniture for our Ginny dolls; around the periphery of a neighbor’s pond, catching pollywogs in jars; through the back path to the town’s little library, to stock up on kids’ books; or along new paths, just to see where they’d lead us.

On weekends during the school year and all day during school’s summer breaks we were free to explore — from breakfast until the twelve-o’clock whistle blew, when we knew to come home for a Campbell’s soup and peanut-butter-and-jam sandwich lunch, then from after our nap time until we were called home for dinner.

I was the eldest and therefore the responsible one, the leader who chartered our daily courses. Every day outside was an adventure for us. We were fearless, explorers. Nature was our classroom-without-walls. The sky was our only ceiling.

So it seems this ache for unfettered outdoor adventure and exploration has never left me. It’s been in there all along. And now that I live in this beautiful place with its temperate climate, and I’m not tied to an indoor job, I can let that adventuresome child go out and play every day.

Yesterday, for example, I walked away from San Miguel’s el centro, where I’m house-sitting for friends, to check on the ongoing construction of my new-apartment-to-be. I’m happy to report it’s coming along nicely, although the promised February 1st move-in date looks highly unlikely. Never mind. “This is Mexico,” as we gringos learn to say.

Here are some highlights of what I saw outside on my several-mile walk yesterday:

Bougainvillea — seemingly always in bloom
Art and whimsy everywhere, as always
The view on my right as I walked up the hill
Near my apt.-to-be is a children’s park including this amphitheater
The park is named after SMA hero Ignacio Allende, and here he is in statue form
I took a slightly different path back and came upon this colorful scene on a side street
Then it was downhill, back into town, along the grand Avenida Independencia

My new apartment is off of Avenida Independencia, which, I think is fitting. My friend Ramiro’s nickname for me has always been el Ángel de Independencia. So my new place, Lord willing, will be my Heaven.

26 thoughts on “Outside”

  1. What a wondrous childhood you had, Bonnie! Imagine the world and what it could become, if all children had the freedom of exploration and imagination as well as the security of a home to come back to. Your photos are splendid!

  2. so beautiful! I so miss an abundance of sunshine on wide and/or interesting landscapes. Thanks for your updates. I too have always suffered from the need to escape to a wonderful place but unlike you have often gotten bogged down. My years in Taos were the best. NJ ain’t so great. Except the ocean. xo

    1. Thanks, dearest L.. Yes, NJ in the ’50s wasn’t so bad, but not every day was sunny and bright, for sure. This region of Mexico is a lot like Taos in the spring and summer — but all year round. Love it! — xx

  3. Yes, Bonnie, outside is the best place to be in San Miguel! Besides the beautiful bougainvillea, etc., what always amazes me is creativity, expressing itself everywhere and for its own sake! xoxo

  4. I loved reading about your childhood, and it resonated with my early years as I too had the freedom to explore outdoors, for full days, day after day. I am feeling so happy now to recall those memories. I am presently in SMA for 4 months, and am also inspired to take longer walks outside of el centro. I’m a map enthusiast, and am already searching along the highway you noted. I appreciate that! All the best with your new home; hope it’s heaven on earth.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and good wishes, Lori. I’m glad this post brought back happy memories for you too. I hope you enjoy every day — outdoors and in — during your stay in SMA.

  5. Hi Bonnie, Loved reading your story as it was clearly written, and evoked memories of my childhood in a small town in KY in the 50s. I met up with a neighborhood gang everyday all summer long. We used to reenact the Wizard of Oz, stretching the scenes out for weeks, picking up where we left off the day before. I visited San Miguel last March for a week. This year I will be there for the whole month of March. Would love to meet you for a drink or coffee.

    1. Thanks so much for this, Nancy. I’m glad my post brought back good memories for you of your childhood outdoor play. What fun we all had before computers kept kids indoors in front of screens!

  6. Your recent post brought me back to my childhood. Gosh, we went everywhere and were to adventurous. Enjoy your outdoor city. It is a beautiful place and those blue skies look so awesome to someone mucking through the seemingly endless gloomy January days in central PA.

    1. Ah, Paula, that’s what I was hoping this post would do — bring back childhood memories — for those of us who played outdoors when we were young, instead of “playing” at a computer. Thank you for commenting. And I hope the gloomy skies lift soon for you in PA.

  7. Dear Bon,
    What a beautiful reflection on the joys of retirement! I’m not letting myself think about it too much, but in five months you and I will be in the same position. Your words speak right to my heart.

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