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!

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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)!

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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!

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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.

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On Today’s Walk: New Places, Old Familiar Faces

I said I wanted to walk new places this year. Well, my husband and I, along with son number two, have traveled to Washington State to visit son number one. It’s beyond delightful seeing my grown-up baby in person again and letting him introduce us to the places he loves in his adopted home state.

Today, we parked and took a 20-ish minute hike down to Clayton Beach near Bellingham, carrying a picnic lunch with us.




Tomorrow, we’re promised to see more gorgeous scenery. This time away from the grind, experiencing new places with my loved ones seems to be at least part of the cure for what ails me. I know the problems of the world will be there waiting when my trip is over, but everyone needs an occasional breather, along with a reminder of the natural wonders that surround us.

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On Today’s Walk: Portent for the Days Ahead

Spotted on my walk home from work. Umm…that’s my street. I should be okay on foot, though. Right?

Digital Road Work Sign

I checked our city’s website after seeing this and determined it is, in fact, my very block that is slated to be under construction. Maybe someone could have told us in a more direct way? At least we know now. And it will be nice when the potholes are gone!

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On Today’s Walk: Wildflower Challenge Complete

The goal is to find and identify ten varieties of flowers…

Seek badge for iNaturalist wildflower challenge.
I’m a winner!

My son accompanied me on today’s walk. We’d just received a good amount of rain, so we didn’t seek out any trails, but simply stuck to ambling about the neighborhood. I was able to hear how his work is going and also find enough flowers in bloom to complete the iNaturalist Wildflower Challenge on the Seek app.

The goal is to find and identify ten varieties of flowers, and I had already done seven before setting out. On our stroll, I found three more.

Challenge complete.

Completed: wildflower challenge. Seek, April 2022
Completion.

Woohoo!

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On Today’s Walks, Plural

The last time I posted, I’d been looking at some fake skeletons. This morning, I found a real one. Some work colleagues and I participated in a city-wide cleanup effort. We were picking up trash along a busy roadway that had a line of brush a few yards back. In the midst of blown plastic grocery bags and other debris caught in the scrub, I stumbled upon some bones.

Animal bones, possibly possum, in brown leaves.
Fake skeletons last week, a real one this week.

I sent the photo to my oldest son, who knows quite a bit about wildlife. He believes this was an opossum once upon a time. I’ll go with that, as on first glance, I thought it was someone’s little family dog that had probably been missing for a long time. I left the bones in place. It seemed like the natural order of things.

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My second walk took place this evening right before sunset and was dedicated to enjoyment rather than civic improvement. How about these magnolia blossoms creating a perfect frame for the moon?

Half moon framed by magnolia flowers
Magnolia moon: photographic alliteration

My little phone camera always shows the moon a little blurry, but I like the shot anyway.

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