day three

I drove over in the late afternoon to Plumb Brook where there are many trails, but I didn’t stay long. It was really beautiful, but I just felt uneasy being out there alone. Wish I had a couple of big dogs with me–no reason for it, but I just couldn’t relax. So I took a few pictures, and went back home. Here’s the way in: dec 17 plumb brook track

birch trees had not let go of their leaves, and the soft brown color made a nice color contrast with the dark green of the pine trees. dec 17 birch leaves

Tilting the camera up I took a picture of the treetops–very tall trees, their tops swaying in a light breeze.dec 17 plumb brook treetops

And on the ground, one snowy pine cone:dec 17 plumb brook pine cone

Next time I will  bring someone along so I feel more comfortable, and explore the trails along here.

ten day walking challenge day two report

It’s already Monday morning on day 3 so I’m reporting on yesterday’s adventure. I walked (okay, strolled, slowly) in our woods for an hour and a half. The weather and the woods were both absolutely quiet. No wind, no bird calls, one red squirrel chattering at me near the big red oak, that’s it. I am fortunate to “own” 115 acres of woods, fields, scrubby marshy wetlands, beaver ponds and pasture. In much of it I’ve carved out walking paths. At some points these paths run parallel to the road. When the leaves are on no one can see me, but when leaves are off, if I hear an Amish buggy or a vehicle approach, I simply stop moving and it goes past without anyone ever noticing. But yesterday I was walking slowly along and a voice said “don’t shoot me”, which just about made me jump out of my skin! It was my good friend and neighbor out for a walk, both of us quiet-footed. She thought I was a hunter, and was afraid I would shoot her! We laughed about it and made a date for when we get snow to get together for a snowshoe and hot chocolate.

The big thing: the huge and very “dead” maple that we called “the grandmother maple” finally came down. This was a landmark for us, a place we visited on every woods ramble. It was very “dead” even when I arrived here 20 years ago. I put the word “dead” in quotation marks because the tree itself had died and yet it was full of life, host to innumerable porcupines and myriad smaller creatures. Branch by branch it fell away in pieces, but a wind must have finally pushed the massive main trunk down. dec 16 fallen elder maple

There is another landmark tree, also very large and dead as a tree but alive with woodpeckers and smaller critters. It’s an ash tree, and enormous for that species. It took us awhile to identify it since ash trees rarely get this massive. But it had unmistakable leaves on its few remaining live branches, and it was surrounded for hundreds of yards by its “descendants”, smaller ash trees. This is the photo I took of it yesterday. dec 16 old giant ashOther BIG things I saw included the view toward the northwest from the highest point on our land, a spot I call Dragon Bones Ridge because of all the giant boulders sticking out of it in a long curving line. Here is the view:dec 16 view from dragon bone ridge

Tiny things I noticed included some ice crystals along a narrow stream, a small poplar leaf on the ground, and a beautiful pattern on a fallen branch:dec 16 ice crystal forms

dec 16 fallen leaf

dec 16 branch pattern

It was great to be out in the woods. It’s always amazing to me how much the woods changes through the year–the trails I cut never stay cut. New growth reaches in and up, deer use my paths and also create new ones that criss-cross mine, branches fall into the path, and sometimes whole trees fall so that I have to reroute. In the winter I can see bird nests and squirrel nests that were hidden in summer. It’s a magical place. Next week my sister and her husband and their new English Springer Spaniel Fergie is coming for a visit and we will go out to explore the woods. I can’t wait!


ten day walking challenge day one

Well, first of all I have to report a big reward I got for getting out there–I saw a mink! It’s not common to see them: although they are plentiful here, they are shy. This one was moving in unhurried short leaps along the ice on the edge of the Little River–here is a picture of the river I took–didn’t get the camera out fast enough to get the mink. dec 15 little river.jpg

Well that was thrilling. Then, as I was walking (50 minutes total) the sky went from mostly cloudy to mostly sunny. Beautiful! dec 15 sunny path

The walk goes along the athletic field, along the Little River through pine trees, then along the much bigger Grasse River. Here is the Grasse River:dec 15 grass river

For my BIG things, I noticed the sky, the tops of tall pine trees, as well as the broad Grasse River. dec 15 pine tree tops

dec 15 sky

For the teenytiny things, I noticed a pine tree seedling about 5 inches high, and a tiny “pond” in the woods (OK, maybe a puddle).dec 15 tiny tree

dec 15 tiny pond

A good start!





getting out of the “saddle” (SADAL)

We can agree on the big things, even if the details from nutrition and health experts keep changing: eat mostly real food (not processed food-like substances), plenty of fresh vegetables and whole fruits, and whole grains; keep sugar to an occasional treat; exercise regularly; get enough rest and sleep; avoid stress. But to do these apparently simple things, I at least and I suspect many of my peers, have to do battle with, or resist, the SADAL: Standard American Diet And Lifestyle. This means two huge challenges: 1. change lifelong habits, and 2. resist the “habits” of our whole culture. Still worth doing, but let’s not underestimate how hard it can be. The SAD and the SAL dovetails very well. We work long hours, often sitting down, in often stressful circumstances. We are encouraged by ubiquitous advertising and our own well-developed habits, to deal with busy-ness and stress by taking pills,  doing “retail therapy”, driving instead of walking or biking, eating sugar, watching TV, etc. Rarely do I say to myself, “Wow, I have a really full day tomorrow and I feel barely able to keep up, I guess I better sleep in, take a long walk, and eat a bag of raw carrots.” No, I set the alarm an hour earlier, feeling resentful at my job and frustrated at myself for poor time management, skip the walk, drink more coffee, grab the (usually less-than-carrot-rich) food that’s easily available, and put the old nose to the grindstone. *sigh*. Our culture pushes sugar at us virtually every single day, and stimulates the heck out of us so we get hyped up yet pressed down.

OK, so enough complaining!! What am I going to do? I have a plan.

I know now to keep it simple and easy when I have to get back on the healthy wagon. First thing to do is relax and forgive myself and look ahead, not behind (or under my feet at the scale). My sister and I have learned to accept that there will be fall-backs and fall-offs and even the occasional cliff-dive. So what? It doesn’t stop us. So, the plan: ten days, ten walks, no excuses, starting today. Also, to make a game out of it, each walk I will look for one thing BIG and one thing teenytiny to notice. And to make it very friendly, it has to be only 30 minutes to count. I’ll check in later with today’s report. I’m at my office, getting ready to grade some quizzes and essays. Classes just ended, the campus is very quiet. Final exams start today, even though it is Saturday. The liveliest place on campus is our bookstore, which will be crowded with Christmas shoppers and coffee-slurping students.