Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Strapping on Seven-League Boots

Today I and Wilbrodog hiked over 7 miles this morning. This is a personal record for me, and I'm a little surprised to see my legs haven't fallen to smithereens. Maybe the next time I sneeze, they will. They're already worn to nubs as it is.

But as I nurse my lone blister (good boots!) and muse on the unhealthy heat brewing in my shins, I wanted to share with you the fact that walking can make women stay smart, can slow down peripheral artery disease, lower your blood pressure (likeTai Chi does), especially if you walk on cobblestones, and of course, make your dog insanely happy.

Walking ain't enough to make you buff, ripped, and trim and keep your bones firm. As I too well know. You gotta pick it up and huff and puff a little. So in all, if you want to maximize your time and fitness, hit a gym, hire a personal trainer, take up dancing and other exercise classes. But if you have time, go slow.

It never hurts to make your feet more than just expensive parts of your body to clothe-- use them in daily life! A good hike is an experience that beats a treadmill anyday, and it's often odd what chance experiences may come your way even in a brief walk, and how moods tend to even out with the miles.

Cherry tree with pink-white blossom and yellow leaves on same branch

Look at this very odd cherry tree which is a short walk from my home. As the leaves drop, its cherry blossoms are blooming. Miracle? Yes, the miracle of mutation. I have had an opportunity to study this tree for the last few years. It will bloom in the fall, in the dead of the winter, and in the spring, even in the summer. This tree does know about the shortening of the days and will turn its leaves and shed them. This is not the problem. The problem is this tree in effect can't count the days of winter. It only takes a few days of cold and then a sudden warming spell for it to start flowering-- this is called a vernalization cue, meaning it is a normal signal that plants use to know spring is coming. For this tree, winter happens in mere days and then spring comes all over again! There is a new discipline studying the "neurobiology" of plants-- many substances used by plants also mimic substances used in animals' nervous systems. For example, plants use aspirin (Salicyclic acid) for their illnesses and pest attacks, too.

One would wonder, to extend the metaphor, if this tree would qualify as "brain damaged" in the world of plants. I suspect so. But it is a very cheery cherry nonetheless.

When you journey a bit further on, you may come across footprints in the beach and wonder why the dog has slid out of your sight, abandoning you, only to realize that two dogs are now with you, carrying sticks and all.Wilbrodog on right, and his friend a large golden retriever to the center; both dogs are running on a sandy bar of a creek, toward the camera

And that the extra dog carries a whole beachful of sand and mud in her fur, apparently. Yet another happy metaphor for life, I guess, but one that leaves too many muddy pawprints on my pants and too much sand on the leash.

I took 3 pictures of a tunnel from the inside, but the thing about the light at the end of the tunnel, it means your camera doesn't use the flash and thus all you see is BLACK and a smudge of murky off-white. I was not very excited to see that light, I must say.

It is far, far better to be outside the tunnel, despite all you may have heard. Behold!

Lovely stone tunnel framed by bamboo and red-pink japanese scarlet maple on leafy hills dipping towards an asaphalt path, leading past the viewer. a man is visible at the far end of tunnel, very tiny.

Now, I won't bore you with any more hoary bromides about the blindingly obvious facts of life, but what do you think is around the bend of the trail in this picture?

A grey asphalt path curves out of sight, flanked by yellow-green grass and plants, and tall slender trees, some birch, with autumn leaves colored dark rust and bright and dark gold, blocking the view at the end with a fence of grey trunks

1 comment:

yellojkt said...

My dog and I do 1.5 miles on Saturday and Sunday. We used to do one mile everyday, but we are both getting old and lazy.