Friday, August 5, 2011


I've missed my walks back on the farm this summer, but working days at Wal-mart kind of wiped out my energy and enthusiasm for tromping through the weeds and the creek bed.

However, with school starting back up this week, it looks like maybe my crazy schedule will allow some time to get outdoors again. School in the morning and early afternoon, evenings at Wally World. In between, I've been managing to squeak in my 40-minutes-and-four-hills. So good to get reacquainted with the Three Sisters!

Monday, I spied a flock of turkeys in the valley below the green barn. They spied me, too, and nervously trotted toward the cover of nearby woods. The bull was taking an afternoon dip in the big pond, lolling about in the shade of maple and beech trees that grow down to the water's edge. Grasshoppers, grasshoppers, grasshoppers everywhere, bzzzzting and flitting in brown clouds with each step I took in the tall grass.

It is too hot to wear jeans when I walk, but shorts aren't really a great option, either. Bare legs in nettles....ouch! And then I'm always a tiny bit wary of inadvertently stepping on some nasty snake hiding in the grass. Yes, jeans and boots would feel a tad safer. Cooler weather will be here soon.

Some folks, when they walk or jog or bike, like to listen to music or to recorded sermons or books. Me, I just like the quiet. My mind never seems to "Shut up!" Always whirring, churning, processing. How exhausting! But for some reason, I find I'm able to gear down the engine when walking back on the farm.

I listen. For the rackety-tap-TAP! of a woodpecker. For squirrels, who crash through the underbrush like tiny buffalo. Who'd have thought such a small animal could make so much noise? For an owl hooting from the far hill. For deer stepping fairy soft through mouldering leaves. For whatever tiny quiet thing might make the next faint sound.

And I look. For paw prints along the creek bank. For shadowy shapes moving suddenly under the dark shade of the trees. For a pair of bright eyes peering from behind a rotting stump, a flash of brilliant orange.

And I smell. Hay, toasting in the sun, like fresh home-made bread baking in the oven. The dank punkiness of the creek bed where isolated pools of slimy green water simmer in the heat. The tang of sneeze weed. A herd of black cows, nodding Hello as they loll in the shade, with that distinctive rich, wholesome aroma that testifies, "You're in the country now."

And I feel. The crunch of dry grass underfoot. The scratch of horse nettles and pigweed on bare legs. The cool shade of maples here, the sizzle of a ripe August sun on the next hill. The burn in my legs as I climb the massive shoulders of one, two, three great sleeping giants.

I don't hear the phone or the buzzer on the washing machine. I don't see the computer or the unfinished school project spread out all over the kitchen counter. I don't smell the gas-soaked jeans of the son who's working on his truck, or dinner cooking in the oven. I don't feel the coolness of the AC or the sluggishness induced by too much time indoors.

And I don't think about work, or school, or finances, or so-and-so's health issues, or the size of my waist, or what I'm going to write for next week's article.

Forty minutes. Four hills.

It's good to be walking again.

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