On My Walks

Within one block…make a meal?

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On My Walks

On My Walks

It felt good to get out in the fresh air late yesterday afternoon as I had spent most of the day at my writing desk.  The sun had already sunk below the Foothills so the temperatures had fallen quite a bit from the moderate high of the day.  A slight breeze blew making me increasingly grateful for my ear muffs.  Snow still lay on the ground with the sidewalks mostly clear.  I gazed over the hill to the homogeneously white cow pasture and the thought crossed my mind again about whether cows are surprised when the grass disappears and reappears miraculously.

I walked at a brisk pace until I realized that quite a few icy patches remained, hardened and glassy ready to resist the grabbing rubber soles of my shoes and leave me supine gazing up into the darkening sky.  So I slowed a bit and picked my way more carefully, looking down instead of up…not the way I prefer to travel.  Was it a message, a metaphor for life?

And then I turned the last corner toward home to see an almost full moon in a clear mauve sky with a stripe of turquoise at the horizon.  My feet stood on dry ground and I felt joyful.

On My Walks

On My Walks

A great gaggle of geese is hanging around our neighborhood.  They graze on the grass of the school fields, around the park, and even in the median strip.  It’s amazing to watch them stroll across the streets with cars jammed up waiting for the long line to pass.

The geese perceive no barriers at the curb; to them, the terrain may change but the concrete and asphalt are just surfaces to be passed over to reach the next grassy knoll.  Not so for the drivers that toot and honk hoping to speed them up; they want those beasts to honor their byways.  “Hurry up!” they blare while impatiently creeping up on the flock.  The geese never even turn to look. They don’t seem to see or to hear the pressure cookers idling in the streets.

I love it that something slows down the traffic.  Drivers won’t yield to the students, but they have to give ground to the geese. Maybe it’s the feathers…

On My Walks

On My Walks

Windswept.  After fierce winds screeched through the Foothills last night, the detritus of countless porches, patios and driveways lay strewn across the lawns.  Chairs were upside down.  Grill lids lay yards from their rests.  Plants had been pulled from their pots.  Building materials sat far from all projects.  Mayhem.

But even with all of that, the most remarkable thing was that most of the world looked unaffected.  The houses still stood with their roofs and windows intact.  Cars sat without tree limbs poking from the windshields.  Small animals and children were safe indoors.

So, the wind came and shook things up, but once again, the world has righted itself.

On My Walks

On My Walks

On my walk today I came upon two things that surprised me. One was a pair of shoes, perfectly good just lying in the grass beside the sidewalk; the other was a full glass of water sitting atop an electrical box next to the sidewalk.

What could have led to these things being left as they were? Was someone suddenly struck by the urge to go barefoot such that he shed his shoes and ran on? The shoes didn’t appear to have been fouled in any way, say by having stepping in dog doo. There were no socks. We can only speculate…

And the glass of water, well, I don’t know either. It looked like a clean glass taken straight from someone’s kitchen, though none were close by. Cool, refreshing and inviting, I can imagine it looking like a treasure to some hot and thirsty soul on a different day. Again, we can only speculate…

Isn’t it fun to wonder just why things might be out of place?

On My Walks

On My Walks

Two words from my walk: contrails and cows.

I looked up at the sky towards the Foothills and saw six white feathery lines marking where jets had passed. Falsely they appeared to come right out of the mountain like steam from a volcano. I wondered what the sky would look like if each plane that flew left a line in the sky. Immediately, those maps that mark the trajectories of airlines in the onboard flight magazines came to mind. How lucky we are that the sky isn’t littered with permanent marks from each airplane.

As I looked skyward, my nose picked up a familiar scent: cow. I scanned the field below me and found the cows have returned to the ranch just over the hill from my walking trail. All summer they were off on some distant acreage feasting on grasses of unknown delights. Now they have come home for the winter where the rancher can more easily subsidize their diet when the snows come and the ground is covered.

Then, as my mind wandered, my two thoughts merged and I wondered what the field would look like if the trajectory of each cow moving around the pasture remained as a residual line in the air.

I’m glad that history doesn’t leave a visible trace of either cows or contrails.

On My Walks

On My Walks

When I walked today, the sun had passed over the Foothills so much of the target of my gaze was in shadow. But when I looked up, the second ridge of the mountains was bathed in bright light. Like a spotlight, the sun drew my attention to the hilltop. Everything seemed to stand out–the trees, the rocks, the terrain. It seemed incredible since the sun had been “down” where I was for quite a while, but on the other side of the hills, it was still bright daylight.

Once the sun sets, the air cools and it feels like something is lost. Interesting what blocking the rays will do…

On My Walks

On My Walks

Why did changing over from daylight savings time cause such a disruption to my walking schedule? I’m not sure. I had been happily walking in the mornings but after the time switch (and the cooler weather, to be honest), I decided to try walking in the afternoons.

It’s not working. When I started the day with a walk, it got done; if I leave it until later, it’s dinner time before I remember that I didn’t hit the trail. And it’s dark.

It occurs to me that making any significant schedule adjustments takes time to acclimate. I can blame it on the time change or the weather, but isn’t it really about me not putting on my coat and heading out the door? Hmmm…is it all about me? I wonder…

Perhaps I should go outside right now, wonder and walk??

On My Walks

On My Walks

I walked today with my fifteen year old daughter.  It’s nice to hit the trail together when she gets home from school so that we can catch up on the day’s activities.  She can get to the piles of homework when we get back, but while we are out, all of that is far away and of little concern.

When we were just around the corner from our house, we passed our neighbor putting stain on a deck.  His dog, Sam, was lying in the sun killing time until the job was done so we invited the pooch to join us.  Happy to oblige, Sam hopped up and headed off down the trail.

It’s a different walk with a dog, more stops for sniffing and marking and, well, dog duties.  But we had fun speculating what he was thinking about why we didn’t engage in these activities, what news he read with his nose, and so on.

Almost at the end of our jaunt, my daughter and Sam waited for me to cross the street so I could deposit the poop bag in the only garbage can nearby, and in those few minutes I missed the biggest adventure of all.  With my back turned, Sam pounced into the tall grass and emerged with a rodent clamped in his mighty jaws.  My daughter enticed Sam to drop the beast just as I was walking back and it looked huge…not a rat, though, maybe a vole?  It lay there wet with Sam’s saliva and looked for all intents and purposes, dead to the world.  We were amazed that this mild-mannered canine could catch such a fast moving thing in so short a time.  We managed to get away leaving it on the sidewalk hoping that Sam hadn’t received any nips or bites.  Of course, we reported all of this to our neighbor when we dropped Sam off and he couldn’t believe it.  “Sam?  Catch something?” and he scurried back to see if he could identify the species of the rodent.

The beast was gone when he arrived.  We hope the thing was just stunned when we left it motionless on the sidewalk.  As soon as we left, perhaps it shook itself back to life and headed home with grand stories of how he escaped a terrible fate.

We headed home too with tales of the rodent pounced by the pooch.  It all reminds me that even mild-mannered Sam still has a bit of the wild residing within.

On My Walks

On My Walks

I think there are more leaves on the ground now than on the trees.  A few deciduous trees are still green and a few are completely bare. They remind me of class discussions of outliers back in my statistics days. There’s always a small number at each end of the continuum.

Sometimes I feel like an outlier too, but am I more like a green tree amongst others bright with rich colors or if I am more like the bare tree anxious to get on with dormancy so I can releaf again in the spring? Hmmmm….

On My Walks

On My Walks

This morning it was cool and crisp when I headed out the door for my walk. The thermometer registered about 38 degrees F. I bundled up as chilliness is still out of the ordinary for me after the hot summer, and for about half of my walk, I was very comfortable. But when I got to that uphill schlog, off came the lightweight gloves, the coat and the ear warmers. By the time I got to the end, I was wondering what I could have been thinking to have left home with so many wraps.

Each year I have to relearn that the key word at this time of year is layers. I had almost forgotten as all summer it was as little as possible!

I’m getting back in the groove.

On My Walks

On My Walks

My walk today was W -I-N-D-Y!! The leaves swirled around newly plucked from their branches.  And a carpet of their compatriots who had fallen before them lay upon the grass dazzling in their autumnal shades.

Still warm, it was a an absolutely spectacular morning to be outside.  The sun was bright, the sky was clear.  The colors were intense under that true blue sky.

What a blessing to be out and about today…

On My Walks

On My Walks

Today I got caught walking twice and both times my across-the-street neighbor spied me.  He had a good excuse to be out since he was walking his big dog.  I was just rambling for the pure fun and health of it.  Okay, those are good excuses too.

It was pretty funny actually since the first time I had stopped en route to the trail to put a bowl full of refuse into our experimental compost can in the garage.  When he walked by I was stirring the contents with a shovel.  I must have looked like a witch stirring my cauldron.  The second time he saw me out on the trail and I was nose to nose with a giant pine tree taking close-up photos of the bark.

I acknowledged that I was up to some rather unusual activities, laughed awkwardly and went about my picture snapping.  He said he had wondered why I was shoveling the contents of our garbage can, then asked me if I had seen the bark on a tree much further up the trail.  It sounded interesting and I should get up there.

So all in all it was a good day.  I got in two walks, some good photos, a tip on some interesting bark…and very likely a reputation as eccentric.