Walking into Joy

willow loveliness against a spring sky
willow loveliness against a spring sky

Whoa – Beauty abounds all around.  Due to a confluence of factors, our car in need of repair, newly developed tailbone-bike-seat-incompatibility, plus beautiful weather, all conspired towards my walking to and from work this week.  Basically providing me with two hours each day to reflect on the state of my life, the universe and everything.

My goal this year is to take at least 10 walks each month, which with my three mile route is 30 miles. In February I walked 17 times, which is closer to 50 miles. That may sound like a lot, but the recommended 10,000 steps per day ratio adds up to more like 150 miles a month.  I don’t possess one of those step meters, nor do I carry a cell phone, so I am not using any apps to calculate how much I walk around inside buildings, only tracking how many walks I take. For all I know simply living in a three story house is racking up the steps into the stratosphere.

Skunk Cabbage- a spring scent to awaken the senses, so to speak.
Skunk Cabbage- a spring scent to awaken the senses… so to speak.

A few years ago my brother, Jim, started keeping track of his steps with his phone. It has really transformed his health. According to him it has improved his life immeasurably.  He is fairly competitive, so setting step goals has been very motivating, but the improvement in how he feels, and his reduced stress level have kept him going. He has even started hiking regularly as a result, a new activity for him.

Which brings me to tree baths.  The Japanese health prescription for spending time in nature. The helpful medicinal components of plants are not only gained by consuming the plant itself, for instance by drinking tea made from Ginko Leaves, in fact the tree’s medicinal goodness is respirated by the tree as well.   If you doubt me try standing next to a pine tree-  the air you breathe in will be infused not only be the scent of Pine, but the medicinal qualities as well carried in the scent. Which is why breathing near growing things feels so good. Any way you slice it getting out in nature is of great benefit to us.

Red Flowering Currant - alive with native pollinators.
Red Flowering Currant in the morning sun, later it will be alive with native pollinators.

So why don’t we all walk more? What stops us from say, walking to work? Or regularly taking after dinner strolls?  Around here the fierce wet weather can be a deterrent necessitating a change in mind set.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”                A Norwegian Saying

But with the right clothes- which may be just the dense wool sweater- which I wore during a recent walk with my friend Rachel- into the tooth of a gale- My legs and shoes were soaked through, but my top half stayed dry under my dripping wool sweater. If I had wool pants I would have been even better off.

“Cotton Kills.”       A Backpacker’s maxim

During this week of glorious sun and east wind, I haven’t needed to worry about my impending death by cotton. And walking to work and back was filled with bird song and blossoms. Even though this was a humdinger of a week work wise- lots of referrals needing to be processed – I start my weekend feeling relaxed, happy and with energy. I think it is the walks.

Lovely Trillium, after which we named out lovely white cat- before she had three legs...
Lovely Trillium, after which we named out lovely white cat- before she had three legs…

With Spring equinox season upon us- The light is winning out.  On my sunny morning walk with Joe today I felt a sense of wellbeing bubbling up from within. Our walk was filled with small treasures- all ephemeral. The blooms I have seen this week will soon be gone, replaced by the next floral wave, just as our winter birds are will soon be gone.  We saw a flotilla of scaups, a beautiful diving duck that summers elsewhere – gathering themselves up to move out.   The water birds that do stay will be followed around by cute babies before we know it.  Summer songbirds are becoming more and more apparent.

According to the weather guesser on Joe’s phone the rain is fixing to return. So I implore you to go on out under the blue skies while you can, and then suit up with “good” clothes when the wet skies return. Do what ever you need to do to get out and get moving. I guarantee you will not regret it.



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