Watching Eagles Soar

It would have been enough just to be outdoors again; instead, it was breathtaking.

After several days stuck inside, preoccupied by extreme weather concerns like a dying car battery, a nagging lack of proper home insulation, and a special-order furnace filter further delayed by snow, we were really ready for an outing. So when the weather improved, we mapped out a great one.

I’ve known about the bald eagles that winter at Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River, and I have always wanted to go see them. This year I read about additional bald eagle sightings along the Fox River which is closer and bound to be less crowded. So even though a sighting seemed less guaranteed, we decided to drive to Oswego, Illinois, and walk on the Fox River Trail. Since we’ve walked on a different portion of this trail before, I figured we’d enjoy the walk, but to be honest, I really never thought we’d see any eagles.

We actually saw two–a splotchy juvenile and an adult. We were thrilled.

Watching them majestically soar high overhead gave me chills.

Resolution Reflections

Even though I did miss a few days of walking, I am calling my Walk Every Day in 2013 resolution a complete success.

To be honest, I’ve never successfully completed a New Year’s resolution before this one. And to think it only took me 50 years! At this rate I won’t complete another resolution until I’m 100 years old. Wait, I guess I wouldn’t have made any resolutions until I was at least 10, so at this rate I won’t complete another resolution until I’m 90. Either way, I really don’t want to go that long before completing another resolution. So before I make any new resolutions, I’ve been reflecting on what made this resolution successful:

  • It was pretty specific–I resolved to take a daily walk in 2013.
  • Despite that specificity, I allowed for variety within the parameters of the resolution–I walked on trails, through my neighborhood and other towns, on a treadmill, and even on a meditative labyrinth. I biked a few times too.
  • It had regularity–even though I got really sick of titling each day’s post with a number (and even messed up a couple of times), it really did make me write something about each day and make up many of the days that I missed by walking twice on a later day.

Some things that surprised me during the year of walking–in addition to actually completing the resolution–were:

  • The Illinois prairie is beautiful. Flat to the horizon, waving grass and fields of wildflowers took my breath away.
  • Even though I did not see my 2013 grail bird, the pileated woodpecker, I saw a variety of new birds, many within just ten miles of my home.
  • I’ve learned a surprising amount of local history.
  • I feel like I am more observant of the world around me. I see color, lines, shapes, and structures with new eyes.
  • I like being outdoors–even in the winter.
  • Walking, hiking, and biking has been a great activity for our youngest son (who’s fourteen and has autism). Moving on quiet trail has been a great way for him to expend some of his energy, and he loves the outdoors.
  • My family got into this far more than I expected. They voluntarily joined me often.

In fact, this year of walking worked because my family supported me and wanted to walk with me, which means it was really more than just about walking.

I set out doing all of this because I felt some nondescript need to be creative in my mid-life. The creativity part was certainly rewarding. I have really enjoyed writing, taking pictures, and learning about photography. But so much more rewarding was spending time with my family and seeing new places and things. And that’s why this resolution has been a success.

I think that this walking thing has become enough of a habit that I will continue to do it almost every day. (I have walked each day in 2014 so far, despite some horrible weather.) I’m sure that my family will still join me on a regular basis, and I’ll keep posting about my walks too–just not every day. I’ll post about the interesting walks and will attempt to take The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge each week.

As for a 2014 resolution, I’ve decided to keep it really simple this year–I’m giving up potato chips.

Day Three Hundred Sixty-five

I Did It!

I completed my resolution to take a daily walk in 2013. Well, I should say that I walked almost every day in 2013, including today.

This morning, I got out of bed early to bid my husband a good last day of work in 2013. After he left, I was looking east out my kitchen window. As I watched the sky gradually take on a pretty pink glow, I decided to do my walking on the last day of 2013 as I did on the first: an early morning walk through the neighborhood.

Determined not to focus too much on the fact that the temperature was only 2º F, I added an extra layer, zipped my camera inside my jacket, and headed out, hoping to catch the sunrise. I actually left too early, so I took a few pre-sunrise pictures instead. The sun popped up only after my return home, and I waited for it in the warmth of my kitchen.

Sunrise New Year's Eve Day

12.31.13

While I was waiting, I took a selfie, as I did back on Day One. That day, I was bundled up before heading out for a walk. Today, it was after a walk, and I was very cold. Cold but happy.

Good day, good walk!

Postscript: People have been asking me if I’ll continue walking now that the year is done. Yes, I plan to keep walking, but I’ll spare the reader and not write about the boring ones! I’ll spare myself having to keep track of what numbered day of the year it is!

Day Three Hundred Sixty-four

Yes! One More Walk Outside!

I’m afraid the worst is yet to come, because it really wasn’t that bad today after all. The sun was out and the wind calm while I filled my bird-feeders this afternoon, so I decided to go walking in the neighborhood instead of spending my penultimate resolution walk of 2013 on a treadmill.

It was cold, but not the bone-chilling temperature that the weather forecasters promised–at least not yet. I enjoyed my walk to the bank and around the neighborhood. Although I had my camera with me, nothing of interest really happened along the way.

Upon returning home, I could tell that the birds were enjoying all the new seed that I put out, so I sneaked around back and took a few pictures. The nuthatches seemed especially distracted by the seeds, and one was quite tame.

NuthatchGood day! But, any day that you can use the word “penultimate” is a good day, right?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

Joy on the Trail

Joy!

When I read The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week, I pictured walking behind my son when we first set out on a quiet trail. As I’ve written before, this daily walk resolution of mine has been such a blessing: we’ve found something enjoyable that we can do with our youngest son, fourteen and on the autism spectrum.

He is so happy to be outside walking that he often takes off skipping for the first few hundred yards. He eventually slows down and we catch up, but I loved to capture those first joyful steps throughout this year of walking.

It is this joy that will keep us walking beyond 2013.

My son, joyfully swinging off in the distance, while I continued walking the loop at a local park in July.

Day Three Hundred Sixty-two

Winter Takes a Welcome Break

We had a second consecutive day of unusually warm temperatures and bright sun today. Thank goodness too; we needed it after the cold, harsh winter we’ve had so far this year.

I did have a little trouble deciding where to walk. We didn’t have a big block of time, so we couldn’t travel far. Also, I did not need another fall this week so I wanted to avoid slushy, slippery snow-covered trails; I needed a plowed paved trail. I chose to go back to Frankfort Square’s Island Prairie and Indian Boundary Park. My husband, daughter, and youngest son joined me.

Island Prairie and Indian Boundary Park

I really like this neighborhood park (and not only because it’s plowed). It has a small lake and wetlands with a boardwalk through it. I’ve seen numerous birds each time I’ve visited. Today was no exception.

Indian Boundary Songbirds1I especially enjoyed the two hawks that circled for about half the time we were walking. When one flew directly overhead, I was glad I had my camera ready, because this hawk put on a show.

IMG_2541We had such a nice walk today. I am so thankful to have had such a beautiful day for one of the final walks of my 2013 resolution.

Day Three Hundred Sixty-one

Great Day!

Today’s weather was a welcome respite from our early, harsh winter, and we took advantage of it. After making a holiday exchange at the mall, my youngest son and I walked at nearby Lake Sedgewick and Centennial Park in Orland Park, Illinois.

We were not the only ones out and about. We saw walkers, bikers, and many ice skaters at the outdoor rink.

Lake Sedgewick and Centennial ParkWe also had a hawk fly-over. What a graceful flyer!

Centennial Hawk

I only have a few days left to finish off my 2013 resolution! It was great to walk outdoors today. Both my son and I really enjoyed ourselves.