Monday, June 29, 2009


An essay on walking from a daily five mile walker and 8 year cancer survivor*

"Walking, I have noticed, is the first thing we want to do and the last thing we are want to give up in our old age. I took my first walk (I am told) with my father at about two years. The story goes we were gone a long time and my patient dad reported to my mom that I investigated every leaf and twig en route. I have been walking ever since.

We walked to play with friends in the neighborhood, we walked to school, we walked to the library and even walked to and from some of our first dates. I learned to love walking from my dad and my grandpa, both walkers all their lives. My dad was inclined toward rural, out of the way dusty country roads for his ambles. My grandpa likes to roam the woods to the north of our family farm. He raised sheep there and the farmland was heavy with nut trees and berries. My summer walks with my grandfather were some of the best to be had.

Over the years I have walked for many reasons. I have walked to sort things out, avoid depression, to make me sleep and to lose weight. They have all worked. Now I walk for the sheer joy of walking. It is my "drug” of choice. I walk the outskirts of town, I walk on the old high school track and I walk the town walk path. I sometimes even walk to Pond Road and rest by the Leaf River (Illinois) bridge and then return. I celebrated my 70th birthday recently with a 7 mile walk.

Going tramping is at first an act of rebellion; only afterwards do you get free from rebellion as nature sweetens your mind. Town can make man contentious; the country walk smooths out the soul. Lots of people have been great walkers. Dickens is said to have walked 25 miles a day! and we know Henry David was a great walker. . .why not, he had Waldon Pond, and Justice Douglas to name just a few...

The changing of the season would be reason enough, even if the health benefits were not there. Autumnal walks, with the russets, yellows and browns and the mists that hang, are nature’s melancholy. Winter walks make you strong my dad would say, as we bundled up on a zero day for walking to school. And they do--the air incredibly pure and sunlight gently caressing your shoulders. Spring walks, perhaps the best, full of hope of a glorious summer ahead. Summer walks, simply put, just hum, I do not mind the heat and find these walks my most rewarding. . . watching children ride bikes, or play in puddles and the exchange of smiles from fellow walkers.

Well, I have gone on enough. . . "I will arise and go now" - William Butler Yeats

Come join me in a walk and have someone say, "You mean-you walked!"
* Lynne Fleming Wilburn

Friday, June 26, 2009

Making it to 7th

We had a huge wind storm last night and lost power for several hours, cancelling the program. The photo is our neighbor's car covered up by a falling limb. As far as we could tell, the only damage to the car was the rear window. On this morning's walk I could survey the damage. I had attended a program on care of trees yesterday afternoon, so I could observe why some trees fell and others survived. Silver maples are quite frail and don't even have the life expectancy of a human but grow quickly (we were told in the class, and several of the biggest trees I saw damaged were silver maples.) I did make it to 7th street, which is almost the last street on the south end, or would be if there weren't a nice camp ground with an entire community of its own another street south of 7th. I'm not sure if I'm allow to walk in there. I'll have to take a peek tomorrow. But I did get about 5 miles in yesterday. I walked in the afternoon choosing to hop from shade to shade, because the heat index was near 100. It really is amazing how grass and trees lower that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More wildlife

This black cat in my path is probably not feral. She didn't seem afraid, but neither did she come when I called. Smart kitty. Owners should not be allowing their pets to run loose--just because it's safe for children, doesn't mean it's OK to let your pets "litter."
This morning I walked about 35 minutes leaving the house about 5:45--east along the lakefront, then up to 7th on Poplar and back west, then north to our cottage on 3rd. I stopped several times to enjoy the scenery, and once to get my breath from that hill on Poplar between 4th and 5th. I'm not a tennis player, but those clay courts on 7th look mightly fine.
The story is that back in the 1870s when Lakeside was very young, a 14 year old girl named all the north south streets after trees. Louise Franck's father was an engineer and laid out the streets and she helped him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The weather has held--no rain, and cooler than northern Illinois or central Ohio. So I've been able to add a street each day to my west end to east end walk--all the way east along the lakefront, then Monday I returned on 3rd, Tuesday on 4th, and today, Wednesday on 5th. Fifth is a bit of challenge in that there is a hill between 4th and 5th. But it's interesting to see the changes from year to year--although there are more houses for sale than I realized. Yesterday I saw a huron sillouetted against the sunrise but didn't have my camera. Today I took the camera, but he/she saw me first and flew off. The only wildlife I caught was this very shy calico (she's feral but gets food from all the neighbors).

After Lynne's inspiring comment at Joanne's post a few back, last night I did a second round trip along the lakefront, so combining those two with my walks to the grocery, the farmers market and Rhein Center I think I did at least 6 miles yesterday. Yeah! The calories, however, keep coming. Boo!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The start of summer

It's almost as good as a New Year's Resolution--arriving at the lake and resolving to take advantage of the walking and biking opportunities. Yesterday, first day of summer I began the day with 25 minutes along the lakefront with about 4 shorter destination walks during the day, for at least an hour of walking. I think that's about 4 miles. I can manage that if I break the walks up.

Then today I began with a 30 minute walk along the lake returning on 3rd St. Then about 6 blocks round trip to the grocery for ingredients for tonight's potluck, then about 6 blocks round trip (walking) to the coffee shop. So I've already got about 3 miles in today.

Part of this glorious plan was inspired by the coffee shop which this year isn't opening until 8 a.m. instead of 6:30 last summer. But on my way there today, I see that the new proprietor of Abigail's is opening at 6 a.m. Oh my! My plan might fail.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


My walking has been confined to the weekends, but wanted to share a close encounter yesterday morning.

As I was starting my morning exercise, I was surprised by a doe and a fairly new born fawn in the orchard. Of course "Mom" jumped the fence, leaving baby in the tall grass on my side of the fence. If only they had stayed in the woods on the other side of the road. The doe, as they do, bounded into the field. I imagine she wanted to head for the small woods between two fields - about a 1/2 mile away. I went to the fence line and there the fawn lay so quiet, yet not seeming to be frightened. I lifted the fawn over the fence and into a bed of tall grass. The baby was light as a feather. What a sensation to be that close to God's new creation! The doe had stopped not too far away and watched. I then went into the house.

Lucky that I did what I did for the neighbor's yellow hound was in my yard right after my going inside. Thank goodness he was too busy sniffing for rabbits. I called out my window for him to "Go Home!" and for once he did.

The doe was there with the fawn when I left for work - hopefully they reached the woods and are safe, as the farmer neighbor was spraying the fields when I came home from work.