Monday, August 25, 2008

A Late Summer Sunday Walk...

Across the meadow two weeks ago. The lupine and grass looked
a bit rangy and finished even then, and now the lupine is gone, and there is
no longer any sign of green in the grass.

I posted this late last night, then I deleted it early this morning because it broke one of my blogging rules. I made just a few deletions and some minor changes before reposting it now. And I do want to repost it because one of the main reasons I'm doing this blog is to keep a journal-scrapbook-record of my very ordinary, pleasant, simple, mundane days and thoughts way out here in the middle of nowhere. For those who had commented on this post when it was up earlier, I'm sorry that those comments disappeared with the original post. Thank you for your remarks. Pretend that it's Sunday when you read this because the post is written that way... :-)

An author's comment to her golden retriever got me out on my walk this morning. It was a light, off-hand remark made by Julie Catterson Lindahl to her dog, Lucy, in the acknowledgments section of her book,
On My Swedish Island:

"I thank her for dragging me out into the forest each day and proving beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no bad weather, only bad clothes."

As I read that I was sitting at the dining room table with no intention of moving, but I thought about our dog, Penny, who loves to go off on a walk every day and how much I like taking her. I've always loved my year 'round morning walks down our country road. There's something invigorating about getting out in the fresh, dry air of our desert mountain foothills, even when I have to bundle up on very cold winter days. So, I thought, let's go!

But then I remembered my hip, with its injured joint that often hurts (like today). And I noticed that the red needle on the thermometer had already gone past 70 degrees, which meant I was going to sweat on the walk. :-)

It occurred to me that I should just go for a walk tomorrow because it's Sunday today, and one shouldn't work on Sunday, and a sweaty walk = work. Besides, I didn't particularly feel like like going for a walk, and one should only do things that make one happy and peaceful on Sunday, right?

It was really no trouble at all to come up with plenty of reasonable excuses for not taking a walk.

And then I considered how good it is for me to get outside and move, even if I have a bit of pain in my hip and need to walk slowly. And how much the dog loves the exercise and attention. And how Julie Catterson Lindahl went on a walk everyday with her dog, Lucy, no matter the weather, and benefited from it in so many ways.

Somehow that inspired me, and I admitted I was being lazy, so I grabbed the leash and out the door I went. Penny and I walked at a moderate pace. At first my legs felt leaden and resistant to moving. In fact, I felt lethargic and "bleh" all over. But a daily walk is not a race or a contest, and I can go at whatever speed I like, so I pressed ahead and plugged along.

As I moved down the road, I began to pay attention to the beautiful world around me and felt deeply thankful for our little place in the country. I began to enjoy the fresh air and blue sky and even the movement of my legs, which had loosened considerably.

Much as I'm not ready for summer to end, I couldn't help but notice the unmistakable signs that fall is approaching. The meadow grass is no longer a lush green, or even a gentle yellow, waving about in the breeze, but it has come together in dry, straggly, mustard-golden clumps, tangled and jerking in the wind. The morning air has a hint of that crisp autumnal edge to it, even when it is summery warm outside. Light is shifting in the sky, moving south, appearing later in the morning, disappearing earlier in the evening. The shorter days and longer cold nights mean the air in the house stays chillier in the mornings, so my thoughts turn toward the wood stove and the wood that needs to be stacked in the barn for winter. The squirrels seem extra busy-busy this year, rushing here and there to who knows where. And I can't forget the way-too-early appearance of that v-formation of geese I saw and heard flying overhead awhile back. Seasons are beginning to shift for sure.

Walking along and looking around, I began to get a quiet sense of God's power, love, goodness, and care for detail. The thought that the Creator of all of this cares for me, makes the niggly, pestery things of my life suddenly seem much smaller, much more in the hands of One who is able.

Now this is a good reason to take my daily walk.

I was struck by this shift in my perspective the other night, too, when I took the dog outside for the last time before going to bed. It was late, so it was completely dark. I walked with the dog across the road, and while I was waiting, I looked up at the sky. It was so completely black and lit with stars that it caught my breath. It was just incredibly lovely. I took the dog back into the house, turned out all of the inside lights so they wouldn't brighten the outside, and grabbed a quilt to wrap around myself. I stepped outside, pulled a deck chair into the middle of the yard, and sat down to stare up at the night sky.

As I sat, the stars grew brighter. I have been a night sky-watcher for many, many years, and this was as clear and vivid and impressive as it gets. The Milky Way stretched in a band from north to south (Laura A, you should have been here sky-watching on this night!). The Perseid showers aren't as active as they were earlier in the month, but I still saw quite a few meteors. Even better, I saw a fireball!

I sat outside for a long time that night, not wanting to go back into the house.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
~Romans 1:20

When we do see God in what He has made, vision, trust, and faith expand. So, if it takes something as silly as a thank you from an author to her dog in a favorite book to get me past my excuses and out the door for a refreshing Sunday walk, well then, I'll take that as a very good thing.