Thursday, October 01, 2015

Thursday Thirteen 390: Thoughts While Walking

I wrote this out freehand with the intention of posting it last Thursday, but never got the chance to type it up — which is why I was absent last week. This started out as thoughts while I was out walking one evening two weekends ago.

1. I’ve had many long walks lately, more than all of August. The same was true of last September and October. I think the motivating factor this time of year is the sudden realization that days are getting shorter and we won’t have many more “nice” days left.

2. People can’t believe that I have walked from where I live to the Capitol Square a couple times the past two years. It’s only 4.1 miles, taking about an hour and fifteen minutes. The hardest part is the two block steep incline at the end. I’ve also walked to Target many times this summer, again a distance of around four miles via bike routes. And, as with the Cap Square walk, the hardest part is the steep uphill climb at the end.

3. In recent weeks I’ve rescued three woolly caterpillars from being smooshed in the middle of walkways, while a fourth and some small fish flooded out of a nearby pond were not so lucky.

4. I hate encountering dead critters while walking local trails. Last Tuesday it was a dead vole in the Arboretum. The following day it was two smooshed frogs near a pond — most likely victims of bicycle hit-and-runs. The worse was a dead squirrel earlier this summer, also a bicycle hit-and-run victim, and so recent the blood was still bright red.

5. Perhaps even worse than dead animals are the number of people who leave pet waste lying along the sides of the bike path. The city put up new “rules” signs this year, among which is listed “all pets on a leash.” It should also say, “Pick up after your damn dog!”

6. This time of year, you have to watch your step along the local bike paths, especially after it rains, due to all the nuts littering the ground. In this area that’s primarily acorns and walnuts, both of which can easily result in a turned ankle. You also might want to keep an eye turned upward, as squirrels love to pelt unwary passersby with their bounty.

7. I like watching the changing of the seasons along the bike/walking trails. Some of the trees are already starting to change and drop their leaves, and there’s always a variety of plants growing. To many, it may be no more than weeds or brush, but if you actually pay attention, you notice a dozen or more species of wildflowers at any time during the summer. The sunflower family is heavily represented, with various sunflowers, daisies, goldenrod and coneflowers. The mint and bean families are also well represented, as are other plant families. I like being able to name most of what I see.

8. If you are mindful of your surroundings, it’s amazing what one might see. There are a lot of squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks in our area, but I have also seen deer, groundhogs, garter snakes, a muskrat, and a coyote. There are often hawks reeling overhead, and this time of year there are a ton of geese and other migratory birds. Recently, we’ve had a pair of
 cranes feeding at a local park in my neighborhood, and it’s not unusual to see wild turkeys wandering about, either.

9. Unlike many trail users, I do not listen to music or walk with a cell phone glued to my ear. For one, I like listening to the soughing of the wind through the trees, the rustle of critters in the brush, and the chorus of birds and frogs.

10. I also want to hear anyone coming up behind me, which you can’t so while chatting or listening to music. It’s important to be aware of one’s surroundings at all times, even on city bike/walking trails, and I do not walk the trails alone after dark. I also try to remember to pocket ID, but do not carry cash or credit cards with me. Best not to tempt the few bad seeds out there, you know?

11. Sadly, this point hit home two weeks ago, when a young woman on the east side was attacked on a major city trail. She was dragged into the bushes, savagely assaulted, and left for dead while walking at night. Luckily, she was able to crawl back to the bike trail, where a bicyclist found her.

12. They believe there may be a connection to a similar attack in the same area a month earlier, when another woman was attacked, but managed to flee her attacker. There is a large reward for his capture, and these incidents serve as a grave reminder about how important personal safety is.

13. Prior to this incident, I did not know that lights on some bike trails do not stay lit all night. Apparently some home owners with properties abutting trails have complained about too much light at night. My advice: buy heavier, room-darkening drapes. I don’t always like the over-abundance of street and building lights in my neighborhood, either, but I’d rather hang heavy curtains over my windows than give up that added layer of security.

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen


Alice Audrey said...

You walked all the way to the Capital building? Holy cow! You must walk fast as well as long, even with some lovely trails along the way. It's taking me half an hour just to bounce around between the two major streets in my neighborhood.

CountryDew said...

Soughing. What a lovely, wonderful word! Beautiful thoughts. And yes, do be careful out there.

Heather said...

Alice: Yes, I walked all the way up town, about 4 miles. I do have a naturally long/fast stride. On a good day I can walk a mile in fifteen minutes, provided I make no stops. If it's really hot or wet/icy I'll ease up a bit for safety. Right now the route up town would be via Frontage Rd to Fish Hatch, then to the bike path around the Monona Lagoon -- lovely view of the Capitol from there. They've just finished extending the bike path by me to Fish Hatch, so it will take me even less time next time I decide to walk to the Square, as 5-6 blocks will be shaved off the trip.

Heather said...

Anita: Isn't that a beautiful word? *G*

colleen said...

I admire that you make walking a priority, like you do reading. Too bad about the woman who was attacked. It makes me feel vulnerable just to know that happens.

Heather said...

Thanks, Colleen. I should make it more of a priority than I do, but there are some days it's difficult to get moving, or move as much as I should. Like yesterday. :-/