Monday, May 28, 2007

Rambles: around my neighborhood

I took a walk this morning. Hurrah!

In college and grad school I walked all of the time, mostly to get places. I always loved being outdoors like that, and the walking usually seemed an easy, natural thing. It's been years, though, since I routinely walked places or took walks. For a year or more I've been yearning to start walking. I wanted to get outside in my neighborhood, get my body moving, feel the air, listen to the birds and insects, see the homes and yards at a walking pace, and enjoy field-edge grasses and wildflowers up close (we live a block from farm fields).

Here's the thing: in order to start taking good walks, I really needed to deal with my total lack of good shoes for walking. Flipflops and little sandals are my basic warm-weather footwear! Friday evening I found sport sandals at a great price, so I snapped them up. On Saturday I wore them with socks for our day-long visit to the annual Chuckwagon Gathering and Kids Cowboy Festival (at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum) -- and they felt great! Last night as I was falling asleep I vowed that I would go for a short walk this morning.

I overslept, but by mid-morning today I was out the door for my walk. It was cloudy and breezy, and I wore a long cotton knit dress (I nearly always wear dresses), a fleece jacket, and my sport sandals with socks. It was GREAT! It rained very lightly for a while as I walked on the sidewalk down our block and then past the apartments and onto the sidewalk-less big field. The rain faded away and the breezes continued as I walked the other two sides of the big field and listened to the big rustling sweeps of wind through the trees.

Along the mown edges of the big field I got a good, up-close look at some prairie wine cups, closed to the cloudy skies, and some evening primroses. Then I crossed the street to walk against "traffic" next to the farm-field-edge grasses and flowers. An amazing variety of growing things! It was great to be able to stop and look carefully at what from our car is simply a blur of violet or dots of yellow. After a bit, I crossed the road again, walked the sidewalk back to our street, then along our street to our house and some good coffee. I varied my pace as seemed good. Early on I felt my legs complaining a bit (on the big field's uneven ground); mid-walk I felt looser; and I took a slow pace to wind down in the last few minutes. I think it was a 30-minute walk.

It was wonderful. Afterward I took a big picture book of Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac and my cup of coffee out to the bench in our entryway and enjoyed them both while breezes rustled through the trees in our front yard and our neighbors' and, on occasion, a bit of rain fell for a while. A bluejay arrived in one of our river birches and was immediately chased away by a smaller bird I didn't see clearly. The sky brightened, and brought out the colors of our flowerbed full of perennial foliage and scattered blooms: yellow coreopsis, red-orange-yellow Indian blanket, and yellow-tipped russet Mexican hat. The daylilies are stretching up fat bud sets, a promise of deep orange flowers in days to come.

A very good weekend morning for me.

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