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 Two Hundred Sixty-nine

Sand Ridge Nature Center

After completing my to-do list early today, I made the last minute decision to head to one of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s six nature centers, the Sand Ridge Nature Center, in South Holland, Illinois.

It was a good decision.

Glaciers formed a lake here at one time, and the sandy soil remains, giving the preserve its name. The area is mixed forest, prairie, and wetlands. Redwing Pond sits in the middle of the property.

Sandridge VistasBut for a group that was visiting and getting ready to leave, I almost had the place to myself, only seeing three other people the entire time I was there. The Forest Preserve employee in charge of the facility warmly greeted me upon my arrival inside the nature center and highlighted the new boardwalk, wildlife, exhibits, and historical area. My ears pricked up when he said that they’ve had several black crowned night herons at the pond, but unfortunately, I didn’t see any. I did see plenty of red-bellied woodpeckers in the woods though!

Sandridge WalkwayI walked along the boardwalk towards Long Beach Trail. They have fenced off the area surrounding much of the nature center to prevent the white tail deer from eating the valuable plant life. Thankfully, the fence is not locked to humans, and I was able to explore at my leisure.

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many wildflowers this late in the year!Sand Ridge FlowersI spent more time here than I had planned and would still like to come back with the family. It’s a great spot.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-one

No Coyote Today

Today, my daughter, youngest son, and I walked on the Black Spur and a portion of the Red Trail of the Tinley Creek Trail System of the Cook County Forest Preserve. The spur connects residential Orland Park, Illinois, to the 9.4 mile Red Trail Loop and crosses under busy Harlem Avenue.

We have walked on the Red Trail before. Each time, we have either seen the resident coyote ourselves or heard of a recent sighting from other trail users. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), I can report of no coyote today.

We did see a patch of apple trees and a beautiful field of ironweed, prairie coneflower, and budding goldenrod before heading under Harlem Avenue.

Harlem Avenue Black SpurWe only walked a short distance on the Red Trail before heading back, but eventually I’d like to finish walking the rest of it.  When I do, I think I’d be okay with no additional coyote sightings.

Good day, good walk!

 

Day Two Hundred Twenty-four

Busy Day, Short Walk

Since a stop at the library in the nearby town of Frankfort, Illinois, was on today’s packed To-Do list anyhow, my son and I had planned a quick walk through the wildflower garden next to the library. We didn’t get very far though, because all of the beautiful flowers have overgrown the narrow mowed pathway.

Frankfort Library WildflowersCould we have forged our way through?  Yes, but after the tick fiasco of Day 222 (yes, we all still seem to be fine), I didn’t want to risk it. Instead we admired the flowers from the outer edge of the garden and were on our way!

Good day, good walk!

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

Swamp Rose Mallows (Hibiscus Moscheutos)Little Red Schoolhouse Swamp Rose MallowA great nature center made it easy to participate in this WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:  One Shot Two Ways.

I took these along the trail at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center (part of the Palos Valley Forest Preserve of the Cook County Forest Preserve) in Palos Heights, Illinois.

To read about the rest of this walk and see more pictures, including my Challenge runner-up pair, see Day Two Hundred Twenty-three.

Day Two Hundred Nine

IMG_0796“Midewin” Means Healing in Potawatomi

My husband, youngest son, and I traveled today to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, in Wilmington, Illinois.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture is turning the former Joliet Arsenal back into a prairie.  It is still a “work-in-progress,” but what a beautiful piece of open land!

Midewin

We walked along the closed Old Chicago Road to the Turtle Pond and seedbeds (fenced in to keep out the deer).  We saw butterflies, goldfinches, loggerhead shrikes, and very few people.

Midewin2There is more of this peaceful place to explore, and we’ll be back!

Good day, good walk!

Day Two Hundred Four

Wetlands and Park

After returning some items to the Tinley Park Library in Tinley Park, Illinois, my son and I walked extensively around the library and the adjacent Freedom Park. The park and the library have some really pretty wetlands along their border.  The park and library share the area with a Metra commuter lot and pay tribute to the Rock Island train line at the park.

Freedom Park

Our weather has cooled off a bit, and we really enjoyed our time here.  We even had the playground to ourselves for awhile, allowing my son to swing and me to try and capture his exuberance by experimenting with my camera settings.  It went a little better than it has in the past. . .

IMG_0733. . . but I still have much to learn.

Good day, good walk!