The weather report said: 5:00 a.m. stormy; 6:00 a.m. stormy; 7:00 a.m. stormy. As I closed my eyes and settled in for the night, I gave a satisfied sigh knowing I would not have to be up and out the door for my walk.
With that knowledge, I ended up sleeping forty-five minutes beyond my usual time. Imagine my surprise to see the daylight, but no precipitation. As I sipped my iced coffee, I listened to the weatherman assure me rain was coming.
Just as I thinking about changing into my walking clothes, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. Instead of walking clothes, I quickly pulled on shorts and a shirt and joined my husband in the car. We were headed to a spot downtown hoping to score an almond croissant.
A few raindrops speckled the windshield, so I grabbed the umbrella as I headed into the European Café. Ah-ha! There were four almond croissants on the counter. I claimed half of them and added two quiches (for lunch) to my order. No need to open the umbrella as I met up with my husband.
Clouds were gathering, but I thought perhaps I should walk before consuming this
Quickly I put on my walking clothes. My steps might have been a little quicker knowing the treat that waited for me. Looking ahead I saw
this threatening cloud. It looked like I might get wet, but I continued on. So glad I did because I got a glimpse of delight
waiting for a birthday girl.
The threatening cloud evaporated by the time I returned home. I cooled down, then savored every bite of the almond croissant. As I glanced out the window, I noticed the patio was wet. There was just enough rain to make everything damp. That was the extent of our “stormy” morning.
I hope there’s another bite of delight in my future.
It’s predawn as I begin my stroll down the driveway, looking ahead for water hazards (a.k.a. automatic sprinklers) when I spot movement in the dim light. Something, no wait two somethings emerge from the culvert drain.
Could that be a pair of cats? I have often seen cats disappear and reappear through this opening to the street. No, they don’t move like cats. They are small like cats, but cats have a lithesome quality. These critters waddle as they scurry from one culvert to the one on the opposite side of the street.
My steps slow as I cautiously draw closer to this pair. I remember the skunk family that waddled down our street years ago. I do not want to alarm these critters if they are skunks. I keep my distance, but have my phone ready for a snapshot.
Click, click, no that’s no good. The phone camera doesn’t like the dark. The images are blurry. I find the flash button. Click, click, their image is captured but their eyes reflect in the light so they have a possessed look.
I wonder what other creatures lurk in the neighborhood.
Let me make this perfectly clear, the times in the title are a.m. not p.m. This is the time of day you will find me on the sidewalks of my subdivision.
I am not happy about the 5:30 time, but the temperature and humidity have risen too high to make my original start time (8:00) survivable. As I walked, I considered the pros and cons of the two start times.
Pros for 5:30
At 5:30 it should be cooler (although the humidity often makes it just as miserable). Just for the sake of argument, I will state it is cooler than the later time period. The light is more muted because it is before sunrise, but it is not dark. The sun does not blind me and make me squint as I look ahead. Occasionally, there might be some color to the sky in the east. More often than not, there is no spectacular sunrise.
The beauty is not just in the sky. When the conditions are just right I find ground fog in the field. A gauzy veil draped over the ground.
There is no social distancing to worry about. NO ONE else is out and about at that time of day.
Cons for 5:30
When I need to be on the move by 5:30, I cannot snuggle back into my bed, for another hour of drifting between asleep and awake. I must get up, get dressed, and get out the door. No time for caffeine to simulate my conscious being. Awake and moving are the order of the day.
At 5:30 there is a water hazard to contend with on my journey. Sprinklers on timers often run at that time of day. Usually I see them and can veer down a driveway into the street and use another driveway to get back on my route. However, there have been times I’ve been caught off guard. When I hear a sppp-sppptttt-ssppttttt I need to pick up the pace or be pelted with water. (Which might offer a little coolness.)
Pros for 8:00
There is no water hazard. The sprinklers are finished. The sun shines brightly revealing the sparkles not seen in the muted light. Dew is not the only thing to glimmer in the bright light. Slugs have been laboring across the concrete leaving their secret code behind. Those faint white lines glisten in the morning light. I must say that even though I admire the glistening lines, I loathe slugs.
I have time to savor my coffee and allow the jolt of caffeine to take effect before beginning my walk.
Cons for 8:00
There are others walking, so we play the game of chicken (more commonly referred to as social distancing). Who’s going to step off the sidewalk onto the road?
That brilliant sun makes it HOT! Sweat rolls down my nose. Sweat slides down my forehead stinging my eyes. Sweat lingers at the roots of each hair follicle. I am MISERABLE! I am a dripping mess!
The conclusion of analyzing the pros and cons of the two times is to stick with the early time slot and just suck it up. When it gets cooler, you will find me still in bed at 6:00. I can’t wait for those days to return!
Those two words in the title had no meaning four months ago. Now they are front and center in daily life. Who would have ever thought that one would need to be leery of a person walking past you? Social distancing has taken a whole new life form when walking.
This is the road I walk up every day. Those curves hide other walkers.
I used to walk about 8:00 a.m. The sun would be rising over the roofs blinding me as I trudged up the grade. Usually I kept my head low, studying the sidewalk to be sure I didn’t step on any creatures, with quick glances to make sure I was alone on the sidewalk.
Oh no, someone is headed towards me! Who will veer off the sidewalk to the road? How sad that we cannot pass on the sidewalk. Even though we don’t share the sidewalk, we do acknowledge each other’s presence with a “Good morning!” or “What a great morning!” or even “How are you doing today?” I may not know their names or where they live or share a sidewalk, but I enjoy our brief encounters in these days of sheltering in place.
These are a few of the walkers I used to meet daily.
Now that it’s hot, I have changed my walking time. I leave the house just after 6 a.m. Usually it’s just me and the birds out and about. However, it is so much cooler (for about fifteen minutes). I wonder if the other walkers think I’ve abandoned my stroll.
Every morning I spend about thirty minutes ambling, trudging, strolling, and sometimes traipsing up one street, around a bend or two, and back down towards my home. The road doesn’t change, but my direction alternates between clockwise and counter clockwise. You would think the views of the homes and yards would be the same each day, but it is not. Every day I notice something new. Sometimes I take a picture to save the thinking that might turn into a blog post. Which is exactly what happened today. Here you have a few random sightings that left me puzzled.
Sidewalks are generally straight. They curve when the road curves, that is to be expected. Occasionally they veer off because of a nonnegotiable structure.
Close-up of previous photo.
What is the reason for this?
Why the bump into the grass?
This view made me stop. I am standing on the sidewalk wondering the purpose/reason for this path to this tree. It is not wide enough to walk on. Why did the homeowner prevent the grass from growing? I keep watching to see what happens to this path. So far, no signs of grass seed on this path.
The arrow is pointing to the tree at the end of the path.
Just down from the confusing path, I come across this mess on the sidewalk.
I understand that the dirt (which becomes mud when it rains) is from the yard where a house is under construction. What I don’t understand is the trail of mud that travels down the sidewalk. At first I thought a bike had ridden through the mud, but the mud trail is too wide for a bike’s tire.
Look how far this trail of mud goes. Why is there an entire sidewalk box full of mud when it has grass on both sides?
You can see that the trail continues on and crosses another home’s driveway. I am flummoxed by the trail of mud.
These are some of the puzzling thoughts that occupy my mind these days. What’s puzzling you? 🙂
After a hiatus of my feet trudging across the pavement, I returned to walking. (Heavy sigh here.) I take my friend Pandora and she sings to me, sometimes I sing along (if there is no one present). She thinks if she sings loud enough, I won’t notice the sweat rolling down my face because of the humidity. I notice. The salt burns my eyes. She does occupy my mind with lyrics which allows me to gaze about my surroundings.
Immediately my attention is drawn to the bright colors intermingling with the grasses in the ditches. Bright pink wild roses are like polka dots laying low in the ditch. The purple spiderwort stands tall on the sides of the ditch. Daisies wave in the breeze. The daisies like to hang out in groups, but occasionally one is standing alone.
Wild rose, spiderwort, and an unknown plant. Anyone know what this plant is? I think it looks a lot like lily of the valley.
Daisies are such a happy flower.
My eyes are always looking ahead on the ground. Spiders scurry, worms wiggle, snakes slither, and countless other creatures traverse the same roads I do. I do not want to step on anyone. Is that a butterfly wing laying on the road? My pace slows to allow me more time to observe this bit of color. More and more appear. Where have they all come from? I look up to discover a blossom in the tree. This flower has blended in and gone unnoticed until it began shedding petals. Petals that could be wings of butterflies.
This is the blossom of a poplar tree. I never noticed how many of these trees lined the road until the petals appeared.
Sometimes my eyes are on the sky. Can I get this walk in before the clouds shed all the precipitation they have been collecting? Sometimes the answer to that question is no. My husband knows the route and he has instructions to find me if it starts raining. Yesterday, a bolt of lightening and clap of thunder sent him sprinting to the car. Gratefully, I climbed into the vehicle before I was completely drenched. It’s always good to have a back up plan in case of rain.
More views from the road will be reported as nature continues on the cycle of growth.
How do branches know where to grow? This is the question that puzzled me one day as I observed a tree in my backyard.
It is a river birch tree set in the corner near the house. There are three trunks, two that grow straight and tall, but this one came close to the roof and as it grew it shifted. It continued to shift until it passed the corner of the roof, then it continued on its straight and narrow path. It never touched the house with the trunk. How did it know to be slightly out of reach of the roof? Why didn’t it grow and hit the roof?
This got me to looking as I walked along my usual road.
Why did this trunk all of a sudden bend to the right, there was not a single thing around it. Why did it do this?
Like a snake it slithered up from the trunk. It found its way around this object from man. It continued to wind and creep its way to the top of the pole. How did it know that it could grow all around and continue?
Branches reach out to hug some unseen presence while the trunk of its neighbor zigzags its way, creating a dance as it moves up.
A friend sent me a photo of a tree she walks by. She said this tree is navigating life as it twists and turns. How does it know when to twist?
Beautiful blue skies with puffy white clouds, slight breeze, sun shining bright were all factors that led me to take a walk (plus I was on the hunt for a slice of life). I haven’t been hitting the pavement in the last several month due to inclement weather or working. Energetically I set out to see what has changed along my walking route while I was away from the road.
I am scanning the fields and sky, hoping to spot a hawk or two perched in the tiptop of the trees. No hawks. Just boring khaki colored fields. Next I cast my gaze down to the ground. There are remnants of the last snow laying in the ditches. They look like chunks of dirty, but sparkly styrofoam. Do I see figures in them? Could there be a series of photos of icy snow that has taken on the shape of a recognizable object? No, I see nothing in this snow.
I have reached my half-way point and heading back toward home. Every step filled with disappointment in nature. You have let me down. I did not find my slice on this walk.
As I am about to turn into the subdivision a horn begins blaring behind me. BEEP, BEEP, TOOT! I know it is Juanita, my neighbor. She comes zooming up in her convertible Audi A4 with the top down, sporting an Indiana Jones hat.
“Beautiful day!” she beamed.
I laughed, “Have you been golfing?”
With her husky voice, she replies, “You betcha, baby, and I’ve got tee times set up for the next two days. The weather’s supposed to be beautiful. I’m tired of sitting on my a** in that house. Catch you later, baby!” Then she’s gone.
Juanita is in the fall of her sixties, but she has a zest for life. She is hitting the links every day possible. Several years ago she traveled with us as we did the river cruise down the Danube. All I can say is Juanita is a hoot to have for a neighbor. I hope I have her energy when I get to her age. Thanks Juanita, you saved my search for a slice on my walk.