Best Walk Ever (Part 2)

A blade of grass, plump with seeds. You need to scroll down at least 2 entries to get caught up (if you haven’t been there already). Not to worry. I think it’s mostly photos and not much reading. I don’t know why I was worried about NaBloPoMo. I’m already past the 30 required entries.

One of the things I like most about the property is the abundance of food for the wildlife. When we bought the land, the former owners had obviously done a great deal of mowing. Year by year, M the Elder and I have made the decision not to mow certain areas (well, ok, it’s an age thing….who wants to spend all their time mowing??). It started the first spring we were here. We planted a wildflower patch over the area that was dug up for the new septic system. Then we watched the timothy grass grow in the meadow. I love the way the wind waves through the grass. As time went on we realized there was an abundance of wildflowers growing in the lawn. Mowing time comes late for us because we enjoy watching the flowers pop up. Our neighbors, with their well clipped lawns, probably hate us for it. We allow the beauty of what they think of as weeds to flourish.

But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else. In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit. Weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s. ~Author Unknown

Looking at the pond through the cattails. I didn’t realize when we bought the property how much upkeep and caretaking it would entail. Keeping back the cattails is one of those projects. They’re lovely to look at (and as a child I remember them being picked dry, then soaked in kerosene, and lit for torches). But they’ll take over the pond, turning it into a meadow, just as the other plants will. We use a combination of eco-friendly herbicides (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) and manually pulling the overgrowth.

In the woods. This is one of my favorite parts of the property, but it’s inaccessible during the warm months. There’s a creek back in the woods and a vernal pool. A very large vernal pool. One that gives birth to millions of mosquitoes, but also gives birth to other creatures that don’t go around sucking out the blood of humans. We’ve learned to enjoy the back part of the property during the cold and dry months. We occasionally run through it during deer fly and mosquito season, but otherwise leave it alone and stay away unless we’re fully dressed for it and thoroughly sprayed with bug repellant. Mosquitoes aren’t so bad, to me, but the deer flies are awful.

Tree and clouds, a visual echo. Maybe you had to be there to really see it.

A rest stop. One of those stumps I mentioned earlier.

View from the rest stop. It’s a good place to stop for now.

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed., John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938

Best Walk Ever (Part 1)

(A view from the hayfield. November 25, 2006.)

I did it! I walked the entire 1/2 mile around the property. I’m very pleased with myself. Very pleased.

It took me a little over an hour. It’s usually a 15-20 minute walk if I’m out there for the exercise of it. Shorter if I’m running part of it, and longer, of course, if I slow down to enjoy the walk itself for the sake of the walk itself. I walked very, very slowly, using my hiking stick to keep my balance. I stopped to rest. A lot. I took my camera with me because bringing the camera along on any walk or hike always slows me down. It doesn’t slow me down as much as the pain does, though, and I was amazed at the little things I noticed while being forced to walk at a snail’s pace.

When we first bought the property we were cited (ticketed) by the county for two very large, very dead trees that were out near the road and considered (by the county) as possible hazards. Because we’re good citizens, we hired someone to chop down the trees. The guy that did it isn’t the brightest bulb in the pack and he failed to follow our directions to chop the trees into small enough pieces for us to use as firewood. This turned out to be a serendipitous event. We took several of those large, round stumps of wood and rolled them to various spots around the pond so that if one was out for a leisurely stroll and one wanted to rest for a while or just stop and admire the view, one would have a place to plant one’s bottom. They make nice little seats. I’ve never been as glad to have those out there as I was today.

And now, since I’m somewhat bored and need the rest, here is part one of the photo version of my walk around the pond today. As always, you can click on the photo for a larger view.

On the eastern part of our property is what will come to be known as the former hayfield. When we first bought the place a few years ago, there was a farmer down the road who asked if we’d let the hayfield grow. In exchange, he would come down twice a year to mow it and bale the hay. In further exchange, since he was doing all the work, the hay was his to do with as he likes. We agreed, thinking this was a great way to get out of mowing part of the property. And it was.

However, in the grand scheme of things, M the Elder and I both want more trees. Our little piece of property (about 8.5 acres, 1.5 acres of which is pond) was once part of a larger farm. The properties on either side of us were also part of that larger farm. Part of what made our piece of property so sweet to us were the woods at the back of the pond. M the Elder and I are very fond of trees. Native trees. Our neighbors, evidentally, are not fond of trees for they have these grand houses with great expanses of lawn. I gather they inherited that trend of nicely done lawns from the British. (There are numerous articles out there about how we in the U.S. got the whole lawn thing from the Brits, but I liked this quote best: “A lawn seems as British as warm beer and curly sandwiches, evoking a raft of pleasant images. Size doesn’t matter. It could be a neat patch of green in a suburban front garden, or a wide sweep of grassy carpet in a grand country house.” You can find the article I stole that from here.)

Last spring we planted over 100 trees, most of them in the hayfield. We “fired” the farmer, so to speak, although I’m not sure that’s accurate as he cut the above bale of hay about 2 years ago and has forgotten to come back and get it. I think he gave up before we “fired” him. He has a reputation in the community for being a lazy farmer.

View of the pond from the hayfield. Isn’t it a glorious day?

The horse next door. I have a really good shot of the horse’s ass, but didn’t think anyone would want to see that. Why is it that animals always seem to turn around just as the camera is zoomed in and focused for the close-up?

Spots of color amongst the browns of late fall. Oddly enough, I enjoy the browns, grays, and maroons of this time of year. Although somewhat muted, I think they’re as beautiful as the bursts of color that occur in the spring, summer, and early fall months. The muted colors of the earth brighten up the sky.

To be continued….

Lessons in patience

(Mogadore. December 2005.)

One of my favorite activities is walking. And hiking, strolling, rambling, wandering, and meadering. I enjoy putting my body in motion, especially when I can get outdoors to do it. Almost nothing cheers me up as much as a good, long hike.

In the beginning of the back pain and sciatica, walking and standing were just about the only two activities I could do that didn’t cause pain. Being used to walking 3-5 miles a day, I continued walking. But as time has gone on and the pain has worsened, standing and walking are no longer painfree.

This has been frustrating for me, to say the least.

After following the advice of my physician and my physical therapist, things got worse. Having had enough, I gave up. I stopped doing most of the things I was told I should be doing. I was too tired and in too much pain to go on.

I’ve spent the past week mostly resting and getting to know this pain. Now I feel ready to move and move I did. I happily stepped onto the treadmill this morning, starting out at a very slow speed. I’m used to powerwalking and a slow speed to me is usually about 2.5 – 3.0 mph. Today I managed to find a comfortable walking pace at 1.5 mph. I started at 1.0 and worked my way up. So far, I’ve logged in .25 miles in 11 minutes, having to split that between 2 sessions with some rest in between.

I won’t be entering any races or marathons at this speed. A long hike in the woods is not in my immediate future. But it’s a good start. Just that little bit of exercise has lifted my mood. I think the pain has lessened even if it wasn’t long enough or fast enough for the release of those wonderful endorphins.

I keep reminding myself to be patient, to take baby steps. Don’t push, don’t force, don’t overdo it. It might take me all day to make it to 1 mile. That’s okay.

I’m hoping to advance to taking a little stroll outside later today. I’ll have to take my hiking stick and my phone (in case I need some help). I’ll have to take my time on the uneven ground. I’ll have to pay attention to my body so I don’t push, don’t force, don’t overdo.

I’ll let you know how it works out. I suspect just getting outside and soaking up some sunlight will lead to more healing.

You’ve heard this before, my friend, but I have to say it again because this is my last chance to say it. You’re not going out there to prove anything. You’re not going out there to rough it. You’re going to smooth it. You get it rough enough every day! —HARRY ROBERTS, Movin’ On, 1977