Day Thirty-two

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Sampling While Walking

I really did not feel like walking today.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  I really didn’t feel like walking on a treadmill again today.  Although today would only be the fourth day this year that I’ve resorted to walking on a treadmill, it would be the first time that I did it two days in a row.

Despite the clear blue skies and bright sun, the AccuWeather Real Feel® temperature of -5° F only gave me two options.  Either I head out on a very, very short walk in my neighborhood, or I go to our park district health club and get my butt on a treadmill.  Since I had the time and could really use the exercise, I decided the treadmill was really the only option.  Like yesterday, I took my Kindle.

I’d like to take a moment here to share my personal list of e-reader virtues:

  • A library in my hand.  All of the books that I’ve purchased or received as gifts in the past two years are on hand, and I can easily take them with me.  If I’m on the road and finish a book, I have easy access to another.
  • Ease of propping up on a treadmill.  No books falling over, no closing pages, it just stays put on the correct page until I tell it to turn to the next one.  (I actually just added this virtue after yesterday’s walk.)
  • Free book samples.  This is the first virtue I discovered when I got my Kindle two years ago.  I love sending free samples to my Kindle.  Although I’ve stood and paged through books in a bookstore, I’ve never read the entire first chapter or two.  (I always felt like some sales associate would tell me to buy it or yell at me for bending the paperback cover.)

I could easily waste a lot of time looking at books on Amazon, so I try to limit how often I do it.  Today, I talked myself into going to the health club by making it a Kindle sample day and allowed myself to peruse Amazon for new book releases and send some samples to my Kindle.

One of the samples that I added was On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz.  The book description states that it’s about observing and perceiving the world around us.  Since it also seems to be about walking, I thought it sounded perfect for today.

It was.  After I took the picture above, I started reading the lengthy sample and only looked at the timer on the treadmill twice (once was after my time was up).  I will be adding On Looking to my reading list.  Oh, I’d also like to add the following to my list of e-reader virtues:

  • It covers the timer on the treadmill, so I don’t check the timer constantly.

Good day, good  walk.

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Day Thirty

IMG_20130130_123604So Many Geese

Time of Walk:  12:30 PM

Temperature:  41° F (Felt like 34°)

Weather:  Mostly cloudy and windy

On the headphones:  “Alt-mom” (This is an official music genre named by my nineteen year-old son.  Today it included Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon, and Bombay Bicycle Club.)

Today’s walk through my neighborhood was more of a zigzag from sidewalk to street to sidewalk in an effort to avoid flooded areas and large puddles.  I didn’t realize we had received such significant amounts of rain!

I walked by the back of my youngest son’s junior high today and took the picture above.  Unfortunately, the Canada geese have congregated in that giant puddle.  (By the way, I’ve always wanted to call them “Canadian” geese, but I realize that’s incorrect.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part that if they’re “Canadian” geese, then we can somehow talk Canada into taking them back.)

Anyone who knows me is probably tired of hearing me rant about the large number of Canada geese that gather at schools, golf courses, malls, and business parks.  Not only do they leave their waste everywhere, but they can get downright nasty to be around.

In the spring, our local high school has gone so far as to put a fake coyote on the roof to deter Canada geese, because the geese were attacking students near walkways and entrances.  The golf courses around here have tried alternate strategies from hiring dogs to bark at the geese to sneaking into their nests and shaking the eggs, which prevents the eggs from hatching and fools the mothers into not laying more right away.

I read about New York and other cities fighting their Canada geese problems in a Time Magazine article.  New York’s biggest problems are near their airports.  Remember “Sully” landing in the Hudson?  Blame a flock of Canada geese from Nova Scotia.  They actually ran DNA tests to determine where those geese were from!

I also read that each Canada goose poops up to a pound a day.  Eww.  And there are so many of them…

Good day, good walk.

Day Twenty-nine


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Time of walk:  2:00 PM

Temperature:  59° (felt like 53°)

Weather:  Cloudy and windy

On the headphones:  audio book, The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

This feels like Monday all over again, I know.  Another busy day, so I just walked around my neighborhood.  I went a little farther than yesterday though.  I also took a picture today–of two trees on a corner lot (above).

One of the trees bends east (on the north/south street) and the other bends west (on the east/west street).  I thought it was interesting and have never noticed them before.

Today on my audio book, I read about growing wheat in “No Man’s Land.”  This was not an easy task considering that they were pumping water from underground aquifers that used windmill power.  But when the U.S. government guaranteed $2 per bushel of wheat to be shipped to Europe during the early days of World War I, they turned over even more prairie grass and grew more wheat.

There were warnings not to do this, of course.  The author mentions John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran who warned that farming in this region would be destructive.  He sure looks like a genius now!

Good day, good walk.

Daily Prompt: Ode to a Playground

Memorial to An Ash Tree

When our daughter, a college senior, came home for a visit last summer and walked into our back yard, she said that she felt like her childhood had been taken away.  As she stood towering over me and had just finished her junior year of college, I thought to myself, “Honey, that childhood ship has sailed,” but I knew what she meant.

We had lost a beautiful, large ash tree to the emerald ash borer beetle and had the tree taken down last spring.   Tens of thousands of ash trees have been lost to this invasive species, but ours was different.  Ours was special.

The tree was just far enough away from the house and on our northerly lot line.  Much of the tree had grown to the south in search of sunlight, including a fork in the trunk with a large horizontal branch that ran parallel to the back of our house.  The branch was twenty feet away from my kitchen window.  With a magnolia tree just off the patio, these two trees provided shade and beauty.

When our oldest son was a baby, we purchased a Little Tikes baby swing, and my husband tied it to the horizontal branch of the ash tree (using his Eagle Scout knowledge of knots).  It was perfect.  We ended up using this swing year round.

When our daughter was born a year and a half later and was old enough for the swing, she too enjoyed it, and we added a big boy swing to the branch for her big brother.  We also added a Little Tikes playground climber and slide.

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When our second son was born two years later and was old enough for the swing, he too enjoyed it, and we added a big girl swing to the branch for the big sister.  (Losing count?  We’re up to three kids, three swings.)  It stayed like this for awhile.

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A year or two later we added a horse-shaped tire swing that we had received as a gift.  The tire swing required a higher branch, and the ash tree provided one.  We added another son almost six years after the third.

Our children spent most of their summers playing out in this area, and I could watch them from my kitchen window.  Even when they weren’t playing, they could be found out there reading on a swing.001-002

Our youngest son took swinging to heart.  When he’d get upset about things, swinging would calm him right down. When we later had a disk swing hung on the branch, he would spend hours twisting around and pushing off the trunk.  (We noticed a lot of additional odd behaviors and developmental issues, and he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was five.)

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Eventually, we had to make hardware changes and switched to sturdier swings as the kids got bigger.  By the time they got to high school, the older three would even head outside and sit on a swing to take their private phone calls on their cell phones.

Over time, the magnolia tree had gotten bigger and blocked the sunlight from that great fork with the horizontal branch and it started to die.  We kept the swings up, because they still were safe, and our youngest still loved swinging.

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Eventually though, many areas of the ash started to have leafless branches, and large chunks of bark began falling off.  We knew what the problem was, but called an arborist just to make sure.  The tree was taken down a month later, and we miss it dearly.

Thanks for all the memories, ol’ ash tree.

(NOTE:  I also wrote about the emerald ash borer and losing our tree on Day Eleven.)

Day Twenty-eight

Learning while Walking

Time of Walk:  2:00 PM

Temperature:  49° F (Felt like 45°)

Weather:  Partly sunny

On the headphones:  audio book, The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Busy day.  I had limited time for a walk, so I stayed in my neighborhood.  During today’s walk, I went back to listening to the audio book, The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan.  I became interested in this book after watching The Dust Bowl on PBS last fall.

The segment I listened to today recounted more of the history of the Oklahoma panhandle.  I didn’t realize that this land was actually part of Texas, but when the state was admitted to the Union, that rectangle (only 35 miles by 210 miles) could not be included because of the Missouri Compromise.  This compromise stated that no new slave state could be admitted to the union above 36.5° latitude.  So they basically cut this rectangle loose–it was considered a no man’s land anyhow.

I was likely taught all of this in school, but probably wasn’t paying attention.  Like they say, education is wasted on the youth.

Good day, good walk.

Day Twenty-seven

Umbrellas, Deer, and Beating the Sleet

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Time of walk: 1:15 PM

Temperature:  31° F (Felt like 24°)

Weather:  Cloudy

“The ice storm cometh!” the weather forecasters have been saying for days about this afternoon.  We, thankfully, were able to get our walk in just before the rain-sleet mix started, but we took umbrellas with us just in case.

Today, we went to one of the Cook Country Forest Preserves.  These giant swaths of land, totaling 68,000 acres spread out all over Cook County, Illinois, were set aside to preserve forests, prairies, and wetlands from being developed.  Not all of the areas have trails and walkways, but there are 300 miles of marked trails for biking and walking.  Cook County did this well!

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The 1.5 miles of trail that we walked today is actually somewhat hilly (unusual in this very flat area).  It’s mixed woods and prairie and is adjacent to the George W. Dunne National Golf Course, which is also part of the forest preserve.

Our son sure enjoyed the walk today, getting ahead of us at the beginning and wanting to go further when we decided it was time to go.  Walking with him has been an unexpected joy of my New Year’s Resolution.

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As we were getting in our car to leave, we saw a small herd of deer crossing the trail where we had been a few minutes before.  Pretty cool.

Good day, good walk!

Day Twenty-six

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Time of Walk:  1:30 PM

Temperature:  29° F (felt like 35°)

Weather:  Sunny

My husband’s first words to me this morning were, “Where are we walking today?”  This is one thing that has exceeded my expectations about this resolution–that my family wants to join me on my walks.  My eldest, before he headed back to school, wanted to join me many times as well.  I always enjoy the company.

Today we headed back to the Old Plank Road Trail, a bike and walking path that was converted from an unused railway line.  We started in historic downtown Frankfort, Illinois.  My son and I also started our walk here on Day Eighteen, except that day we headed west and over a cool pedestrian bridge.  Today, we walked from approximately Mile Marker 9.4 east to Mile Marker 8.3 (and back).

OPT Day 26Just east of downtown Frankfort there’s a play area with swings that my son certainly enjoyed having to himself.  The play area opens on to a prairie and wetlands preserve with a separate walk around a small lake.  This area of the trail is lovely.  With it being so close to town and residential areas, it is heavily used by walkers, dog-lovers, runners, and bikers.  The powers that be did this section well!

After a week with bone-chilling temperatures, today’s sunshine and warmer temperatures were a welcome change.  It was a great day for fresh air and a walk! Without this walk-a-day resolution, we never would have thought to do something like this in the winter.

Good day, good walk!!