On Today’s Walk: Gratitude and Staving Off the Food Coma

Concrete walking trail winding between leafless trees. Overcast sky.
Doesn’t this trail look inviting?

After a morning of cooking followed by an hour of eating, my spouse, my son, and I faced a choice between lapsing into food comas or getting out and moving. Though the hubs much prefers bicycling, he allowed me to cajole him into a walk and even suggested a trail to me. Since it rained most of the morning, we decided to go for a paved option.

I tried to stay in the spirit of the day and exercise gratitude along the way, which was easy enough. The afternoon provided what is for me optimal walking weather — 54 degrees and overcast. I was with two people I love. We had the luxury of being stuffed with a full meal of good food, and we all enjoy the health to be able to stroll away those calories on a beautiful walking path in a community that builds and values such things.

Sights we saw along the way:

Shallow creek with many rocks, winding through autumn landscape.
Grindstone Creek

Water puddle on concrete, reflection of tree limbs and sky.
Rain Puddle

A couple of curiosities:


After this hearty three-mile trek and a piece of pumpkin pie, the food coma finally caught me. I’m also grateful to own a comfortable napping couch.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~~

A Little Christmas Cactus Obsession and a Poem

Last spring, a friend who was paring down her possessions for a cross-country move gifted me a Christmas cactus, the first one I’ve ever owned. I keep it on the corner of the desk where I do my writing. Eight days ago, I noticed the first flower buds sprouting — twenty-one of them. Maybe it’s a Thanksgiving cactus after all. I’m a little obsessed with the plant.

Part of a Christmas cactus, with several pink blower buds.

In fact, I wrote a poem for it. It’s still a little rough, but I’m sharing it anyway.


First Flower Buds on My Christmas Cactus

Twenty-one sudden blushing pointed buds
Twenty-one pieces of evidence
That I, erstwhile perpetrator
Of negligent planticide,
Have been successfully reformed
I myself have blossomed into a being
Capable of nurturing
A living thing incapable 
Of speaking its needs
As a toddler or a cat would do
Twenty-one velvet spear tips of validation
Twenty-one prizes to reward
My diligence and faith,
Twenty-one shots of dopamine to my brain
Payoff for my daily ritual of care,
Of arranging the curtains for optimal sun,
Of speaking aloud, Good morning
Christmas Cactus, a greeting unreturned 
Until now


Here are a couple of photos to track its progress, one taken four days after I noticed this first buds and one from this morning. The lighting was a little different.


You go, little desk plant! Live your best life!

~~

A Little Poem for Spooky Season

Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

Wolf, Running

Full curious, half afraid
I followed the wolf 
in my dream last night.
Where could its journey
be leading on city streets?
I never knew.
It picked up speed and
disappeared from view.
No longer did I run behind it,
but pushed myself top speed
in pursuit of something
I can’t recall.
Something urgent, a primal need.
I remember dead-ends, a full moon,
unexpected stairs, so steep
I ascended, panting, on all fours.
Pebbles embedded in my bare feet.
When did I leave my shoes behind?

~~

On Today’s Walk: No Bears Detected

At the start of the year, I stated my ambition to explore as many local walking paths and trails as possible. That has…not happened much. But I had the day off work today, the temperature was perfect, my to-do list had several things crossed off, and my son-in-residence was willing to join me. No excuses not to go exploring.

These photos are from the Bear Creek Trail in Columbia, MO. We found the creek, but no bears (because there aren’t any in this part of the state so far as I know.) Not pictured are the spots where we discovered an unofficial connector between two trails by navigating rock-to-rock across a narrow part of the creek, in the process startling dozens of tiny toads on the opposite bank. It was a good old-fashioned nature walk after all.



Be still my heart — not just one, but two wooden footbridges! I have an unreasonable attraction to wooden bridges. I must have been a troll in a previous life.


All in all, a very satisfying 2.3 mile micro adventure. The jaunt wasn’t too short or too long, not too hot or too cold, not too scary or too boring, but in every aspect just right.

On Today’s Walk: Warning Heeded

Here be hornets!


I often take this little path through the woods, but not today!

Sign posted by some considerate person warning of hornets on the path. A little drawing of a hornet is included, and directions to alternate routes.
Here be hornets!

I hope whoever made the discovery is okay. I certainly appreciate them putting in the time and effort to warn others. I did check, and there’s a sign at the other end of the path, too. I especially like the added touches — the drawing of a hornet and the suggestions for alternate routes.

The person or people could have warned only their friends, or sat at home nursing their stings. The extra effort to make sure strangers are safe, it’s one of the building blocks of a functional, caring civilization. I’m inspired to be extra mindful these next few days to make sure I’m watching out for others and not just myself. Thank you, kind sign maker(s)!

~~

On Today’s Walk: Artfully Decorated

I haven’t made a “Today’s Walk” post in a while, but I talked my son into going on a three-mile excursion this morning. We decided to explore some streets we don’t usually cover in our walks and found a little pocket of houses that must be inhabited by artists. It was a delightful discovery.

Found object (?) yard art:

A colorful little free library.

A little free library, wooden red container with the words "offline reads" painted in white, mounted on teal post. A plastic yellow spinning flower is in the ground next to it.

And even more colorful garage doors:

Two side-by-side garage doors painted in squares of several vibrant colors. The surrounding house walls are shades of purple.

I really need to up my game at home.

Happy Labor Day!

~~

Let us Now Celebrate: a Poem for Labor Day

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

I wrote this poem a while back, and I wasn’t necessarily thinking of Labor Day. But this weekend seems like an appropriate time to share.

Let Us Now Celebrate

Let us now celebrate those missed 
In the recording of history
The nameless and unremembered
The one who walked in the rain
To a factory job that paid for shelter 
From the rain for their family
The one who brought joy to the immediate crowd
With jokes and laughter, but did it while
Shucking corn, and not near a microphone
Those fallen to disease or war before
They were old enough to fight
The songwriter who composed melodies
To sing the children to sleep
The one who could have gone far in life
If not for so much close at hand
To get done first
The washers of dishes and clothes
Cleaners of floors and furniture
Whose work came undone as soon as done
Leaving nothing to sign a name to

~~

Words of Wisdom from Salman Rushdie

Ovid was exiled from Rome and never allowed to return. However, his poetry outlived the Roman Empire.

I’m distressed by today’s news of an attack on author Salman Rushdie and fervently hope for his full recovery. I heard him speak in person about five years ago and it was an hour well spent. One thing he said that sticks with me:

Ovid was exiled from Rome and never allowed to return. However, his poetry outlived the Roman Empire.

I believe that’s something to ponder today.

~~

Neighborhood Walks Through the Looking Glass

Vacant lot with orange mesh fencing
There used to be a fairy tale looking stone cottage here.

As a frequent and avid walker who has lived in the same spot for nineteen years, I possess a deep familiarity with the landscape and character of my neighborhood. There are constant changes, of course, as seasons and residents move on to be replaced by others. But some alterations are more jarring than others. A couple of differences in the past few weeks have given me a through the looking glass feeling.

I’m fortunate to be within walking distance of my job, so my most frequent route takes me from my house to work and back. Those handful of blocks contain the sights I see on a near-daily basis. One house I pass was bought a few years ago by a couple with two very young children and an obvious appreciation for outdoors play. It always gives me a smile to see what they’re up to and maybe exchange a few words. This past winter was pretty brutal and lasted longer than usual, so I didn’t see the residents out at all for several months. Then one day in May as I headed up the block toward their place, I heard kids laughing and saw the parents out with them, drawing on their driveway with chalk. I approached with swelling heart, ready to wave and say a cheery hello. But wait!

When I arrived at the yard something was off. It was inhabited by the wrong family. All different people. Same general ages and complexions, but four completely different people. When did that happen? I go by the house nearly every single day, remember? I’d never seen a for sale sign, no moving trucks, no hint of disruption in the fabric of my reality. Had I gone through a portal to a parallel universe? I was shook.

Second shocking change: the house of my daydreams is gone. Poof! This one is (or was) not on my work-and-back path. It’s several blocks from my home, but still on a street where I walk frequently, in part because I enjoy looking at the stone cottage that appeared to be out of a fairy tale, the kind of place they put on jigsaw puzzles. I loved to imagine living in it some day, maybe in retirement, spending my days tending flowers in its yard. My step gained an extra spring when I turned the corner leading to my intended future enchanting stone home.

It’s amazing how quickly an entire house can be gone with hardly a trace. Breathtaking really. I ambled along anticipating my moment of housing zen, only to be caught up short by orange fencing and a demolition order. Sob. What does my dream future hold now?

Dare I venture out today? I suppose I will. I’m bracing myself. Perhaps I’ll find the portal that will bring me back to my dependable, known universe. I can hope.

~~