Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Walk location: neighborhood
Skies: overcast with rainy mix of sleet
Temperature: 29 degrees
Steps: 2300
iPod: Jonathan Kellerman's Bones

It is a droopy morning. There is little wind so the icy spatter falling from sullen skies exacerbates the stillness of the morning. The trees which have remaining leaves stand still, their latent foliage drooping in the cold sleet. As I walk in the elements of the day I, too, pull my appendages toward my center. My shoulders are rounded, my hat-covered head watching the frozen streets to avoid falling. Even Gizmo, my faithful walking companion, is droopy, his tail plastered against his body, not its normally assertively curled posture. His ears droop downward, his pace consistent and his disposition steeled against the weather. Most days he is eager to sniff every telephone pole, every water hydrant, but today his focus is upon completion.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Time To Get Busy Again

Walk location: Glenwood/Glencrest neighborhood, Mankato
Walk time: morning
Skies: cloudy and foreboding
Temperature: 20 degrees and still
Steps: 5436
iPod: Jonathan Kellerman's Bones

I have been quite lax lately in my walking patterns, which I could blame on either the colder weather or my busier schedule. Both would be poor excuses, though, especially when I remember how good it feels to walk. It seems it is a daily battle to force myself into my walking gear, but once I am on the path I feel immediately better, a combination of both psychological and physiological benefits.

It is an early winter morning at twenty degrees, snow on the ground and molten grey skies overheard. The forecast for the week promises more winter weather, with additional snow and consistently overcast skies. It is a prototypical November day. Most of the trees are now barren of leaves, except a few who stubbornly grip their last colored fragments, as if an act of desperation to resist departing from the autumnal warmth of only a week ago. Outside the window where I am now sitting to type these words is a recalcitrant maple whose yellow leaves are bravely hanging on amidst the ice and snow of days past. Their drooping figures are a reminder that winter will soon be here in full force.

It is invigorating and refreshing to embrace the cold of the morning, and there is a certain comfort in returning to a warm home with rosy cheeks and fogged glasses. It won't be long until this morning's walk will seem warm in comparison to what is to come.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Snowy Afternoon in October

Walk Location: Sibley Park, Mankato, MN
TIme of Walk: mid-afternoon
Skies: blustery, snowy, wind-whipped
Temperature: 33 degrees
Steps: 2,500
iPhone: This American Life (MPR)

I have not blogged a walk for some time because I have been sick for the better part of two weeks and any walk I have taken has been only maintenance, and evidently not enough maintenance either because my blood sugar numbers have been out of whack (too high). Today, however, I am finally feeling better, so I headed out into the elements to get back on track.

And what a day it was. With wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, snow pelleting my face from the sky and the chilliness of the day I had no trouble finding solitude on the paths at Sibley Park. There were a couple of cars that passed me by, but otherwise there was no sign of human life. A walk in the brisk weather invigorated me, though, and I am glad I went, although it was only about 2,500 steps. (By the time I sleep tonight I will clocked about 13,000 steps through additional neighborhood walks with the dog, and I am hopeful that I will be back on the walking plan now).

This time of year is always a challenge for an outside walker like myself, because the weather is a constant disincentive. I expect some nice days to come (my hope is that winter has not already arrived, since it is still October), but by the time late November arrives it will take some personal fortitude to walk as I need to walk.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rising In Darkness

Walk location: neighborhood
Time of Walk: early morning
Skies: Clear and breezy
Temperature: 54 degrees
Steps: 6400
iPod: David McCullough's Truman

One of the spiritual disciplines I often employ is the praying of the Daily Office. There are, of course, numerous versions, and over the years I have experimented with the Office from Catholic, Episcopal, Celtic and other traditions. There are two which I most frequent: the Order of St. Luke and www.missionstclare.com [The Mission of St. Clare]. The latter is based on the Book of Common Prayer and includes hymnody (with midi files). It was there that I first learned Rising in Darkness.

I was reminded of that hymn when I awakened on this Saturday morning. In the midst of autumn's glory is the melancholy reminder that each day's sunlight tapers progressively until we reach December 21. This is one of the biggest challenges to my walking pattern because I don't like to walk when it so dark I cannot see anything around me. The ability to enjoy what is around me is half my motivation for getting out and moving. This morning, though, I knew I needed to get out and walk since my week's walking has been hampered.

The first challenge was convincing myself to get out bed to go. There was no temperature inhibiting me, because it was a relatively warm 54 degrees. There was no precipitation holding me back, because we have had several dry days. I had no excuse. I got up and encountered my second challenge: convincing my canine walking partner Gizmo that he should join me. For some reason he is not thrilled about early mornings that require rising in darkness, either, so I had to more than gently encourage him to come with me. Once we left the house, though, we were both in fine form.

One of the benefits of an early morning Saturday walk is that even in town it is nearly solitary. It took us fifteen minutes to meet our first pedestrians, and then they were on the other side of the street. Traffic was limited and little was stirring in the houses we passed by. It was a benefit of an early morning walk.

The day is dawning bright, clear and breezy. It feels like another lovely fall day, the nectar of which I intend to drink repeatedly in anticipation of the brittle chill of winter which will be here all too soon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Blush of Autumn

Walk Location: neighborhood
Walk time: evening (sunset)
Skies: clear and warm, breezy
Temperature: 68 degrees
Steps: 3500
iPod: David McCullough's Truman

I have been feeling sick this week from a cold, so my motivation has been pretty low. That, coupled with a busy week at work, has limited my walking prospects. I am losing my sense of momentum, and I need to regain it before the snow flies, or I will be at a complete standstill by then.

Tonight's weather does encourage my need to get back to a regular walking rhythm. I walked with Claudia and our dog Gizmo tonight, experiencing the wonders of a blushing autumn evening. The trees are at their peak right now and tonight's warmth and luxurious sunset created a blush, especially on the maples which are red and orange. In addition to the lovely beauty on the tree, beneath the trees is an ever-increasing blanket of colorful leaves.

Tomorrow I intend to spend some significant time outside enjoying the beauty of the season before things turn in a colder direction.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An Enshrouded Morning

Walk Location: Minneopa State Park
Walk Time: Morning
Skies: Clear and cool
Temperature: 36 degrees
iPod: This American Life
Steps: 4500

I started this blog for a couple of reasons. The first was to encourage me to walk on a regular basis. The second was to have a record of what I am observing. The third is to remind myself that no two days are ever the same. Today's walk was proof of the final reason. Yesterday was cool and rainy, a gloomy grey day. Today, however, is beginning bright and crisp, a testimony to the glories of its Creator.

A while back I blogged about the sumac beginning their journey into crimson radiance. Now that October is here, they are at their reddest peak. Because it is a cold dew-drenched morning, the leaves seem laden with moisture. There is a depth to this morning's moisture, a silent sort of somnolescence, broken by a herd of whitetail deer gliding through the bushes not far from my walking path. My reverie of nature is interrupted as I discover on the same path, within minutes of one another, the bodies of two dead moles who must have succumbed to the season's cold temperatures.

The vivid colors of autumn enshroud me as I walk this morning, beginning in an area that is more of a prairie (with vegetation) and ending with a walk along the bluffs of the Minnesota River, filled with hardwoods of many kinds. There are oaks, with their burnished bronze leaves, maples with their reds and oranges, the very occasional birch with its yellow, and numerous bushes and shrubs which fill my iPhone's camera with such splendor. I continue to be surprised how well the iPhone does with pictures. It isn't exactly the most sophisticated camera, but generally does a very nice job in capturing what I am seeing.

There are no two days the same. I am coming to realize the ever-changing beauty of the cosmos in ways I have neglected in the first four decades of my life. Even now as I type these words I am glancing out of my window to see the warmth of the sun melting away the cold dew from the leaves of the tree. It is creating visible steam, an impressive sight and reminder of the nuances of nature most of us have not enough time to notice.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Walk location: neighborhood
Walk time: early morning
Skies: dark
Temperature: 65 degrees
iPod: This American Life (National Public Radio)
Steps: 2,500

I am told that in British-influenced countries "unwell" describes a feeling of illness. While we might say "sick," some say "unwell." I woke up this morning feeling unwell and debated in the warmth of my bed what is the nature of my sickness. Because of a ridiculous schedule on Saturday and Sunday (lots of sitting time and little opportunity to walk) I am embarrassed to say that on neither day did my walking total more than 3,000 steps. When my goal is at least 10,000 steps a day, it's been a disappointing weekend. Too much sitting time, coupled with unhealthy food have resulted in my malaise. Although I've never been a drinker, I wonder whether my feeling this morning is akin to Monday morning for the weekend binge drinker. Headache, upset stomach, weariness, irritability.

By 6:30 I decided to get out of bed and force myself to walk. It is a nice morning, moist (from yesterday's rain) and warm. The sun is not yet up so I can see very little of the day, but I can tell that even at 6:30 I have started my walk too late to enjoy any kind of solitude in our neighborhood. Traffic is surprisingly heavy and several times I have to adjust my earbuds to hear what's on my iPhone/iPod.

Gizmo, my walking companion, has not been walked for a couple of days, either, so while he is anxious to walk, he is also too ready to return home. We have walked less than half the minimum distance I like in the morning, but we turn around anyway and return home. Sensing that the day is will become a lovely fall day in a few hours, I suspect I will be out again when it is sunny and head for a more solitary location to engage in some active steps.