It’s been a hectic month, so I thought I’d go with an easy read for today. Nothing too taxing, just a celebration of the worlds that open up when you have a chance to take a walk.
1. After the rains of the previous week, we finally made it down to the river last weekend and ended up just north of Violette’s Lock, on the C&O Canal towpath. There was plenty of mud to dodge, but the weather was fantastic, and the humidity and insects are still at manageable levels. The river, though–the river was rushing, carrying so much water and debris following the deluge. It felt good to be out and just walk. Certainly one of those days that made me wish I had a pack full of food and water, with plans to be out for hours. The cherry on top was spotting the first oriole of the season, not to mention leafy green views like the one above.
2. This feature in the travel section of the Washington Post, “How should you prepare for your next vacation? Start walking,” describes the usefulness of being in good walking shape in advance of any vacation–even one that doesn’t necessarily center around walking. Of course, it’s no secret that walking is good for you, but some of the anecdotes are interesting in the way they highlight the amount of walking done on non-hiking trips. For me, a bonus to walking a city instead of taking public transportation is that you get to see extra sights, often for free. Interesting-looking cathedral? Peek inside. Historic landmark? A side stroll is in order.
For walking-specific tours, yesterday’s New York Times travel section featured this article: Seeing a City the Old-Fashioned Way: One Step at a Time.
3. John Muir’s familiar line, “The mountains are calling, and I must answer,” comes to mind lately. As the weather warms (though honestly, even as it cools in winter), it’s hard not to want to get outside and see the new season from atop some summit, even if it’s only a thousand feet above your usual elevation. And when it’s greater than that, the experience is even more rewarding. I like this excerpt from Tom Ryan’s book Following Atticus, about climbing mountains and hiking with his miniature schnauzer, because it captures the sense of awe inherent in any good hike or climb:
A friend of mine who is not into mountains or nature or the simple blissful feeling that comes from the wind in your face once asked me, “What’s the big deal? You get to a mountaintop and you see the same view you did from the last mountaintop. I don’t get it.
I didn’t have the appropriate words to answer her at the time, but once atop West Bond, while I was looking out on so many of the forty-eight we’d encountered throughout the summer, I had my answer: “How many times can you look upon the face of God?”
4. These opening lines, “These days between late spring / and early summer are like paintings / already hanging but not yet finished,” caught my eye because they made me sense the time of year. Read the rest of Jeffrey Harrison’s “Varnishing Days,” featured earlier in May at the Poetry Daily website.
5. Finally, we saw fireflies last night for the first time this spring. This has me thinking about all that becomes visible only at night, whether you’re on an evening walk or just sitting under the stars. So, here is Rita Dove’s “Evening Primrose,” which gives a literal and figurative nod to all that might shine in darkness.