Friday, 23 January 2015

Walking My Way Through Winter …

I haven’t been  afflicted with winter  blues so much this year, not really sure why.  Maybe because we have had plenty of bright days and not so much gloom as usual.  I have been walking every afternoon,  part of my daily winter routine -  and feel much better for it – especially on these crisp, frosty days when my cheeks turn rosy and the tip of my nose feels as though it’s about to drop off.

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Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. It's underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.  ~ 'NHS Guide - Walking for Health'

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Walking clears the mind – makes you more aware of your surroundings – I know you dog walkers probably go out twice a day but walking with dogs is a distraction, keeping them under control, preventing them from eating sheep droppings or rolling in something nasty.  When you walk alone it is different especially in the country.

Country lanes in winter are different, they are lonely places. {…} Nevertheless,  I can understand the solitude, the dankness and early dark, the absence of human activity, immediately beyond the window, oppresses some and can make the everyday business of country life lonely and wearisome. {…} That is one of the great differences between life in the village and in the town, especially in winter which, after all, lasts for more than half the year, and it has driven away many who are not naturally withdrawn, cannot take the solitude and the emptiness of fields and lanes, the apparent monotony.  Susan Hill

Sometimes when the weather is dank and miserable I stride out, taking notice of nothing, head down, shoulders hunched, hurrying on my way to get back to the warmth of the fire and the friendly light from the lamps.

Monday walk - three curious horses

But then there are the bright crisp days when the sky is as blue as a robin’s egg  and walking is a pleasure -  you become aware of everything about you – two blue tits flitting through the hedgerow following you as you walk along the road, playing and twittering to themselves.  A single leaf unfurling on a sycamore tree; the cows in their winter quarters making soft lowing noises as you pass -  These are the delights of walking alone in winter, nothing to distract you, going at your own pace and watching and listening to nature at work.

Travelling on foot can also be meditative, fostering a Slow frame of mind.  When we walk, we are aware of the details around us – birds, trees, the sky, shops and houses, other people.  We make connections {…} Walking takes longer, for example, than any other form of locomotion except crawling.  Thus, it stretches time and prolongs life.  Life is already too short to waste on speed.  Walking makes the world much bigger and therefore more interesting.  You have time to observe the details.  ~ Extract from In Praise of Slow (Carl Honore).

Monday walk - bright sunshine with darkening sky - beautiful effect

Walking with someone else is also a different experience, chatting,  pointing out little things that they might have missed – like on Sunday morning – a really cold and frosty start but the sun came out so we wandered down to the local reservoir – a lovely spot for a walk on a wintery morning.  The puddles on the side of the road were iced over or shattered where cars had driven through them.

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  The water was frozen in parts and the ducks were all at the far side, but then I spotted a flash of blue at the side of the water, the sun catching the iridescence of feathers – a Kingfisher – only a quick glimpse, moving too fast to capture with the camera, but definitely a Kingfisher.  So rarely seen around these parts – a Sunday morning bonus, that’s for sure.

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“Walking … is how the body measures itself against the earth ~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust:  A History of Walking

At the moment I am reading Nightwalk by Chris Yates – subtitled A Journey to the Heart of Nature.  Something I have never considered -  walking at night.  How different would the experience be to walk across the fields and into the woods in darkness.  A bit scary I would think -  but maybe on a hot summers evening it would be delightful to be out and walking by the light of the moon – listening for the night creatures.

“Following a path that runs from the edge of his garden over luminous hills and into shadowy woods, we are lead closer to the heart of nature, for while the rest of the world sleeps the nocturnal landscape comes mysteriously alive.  Time slows down for a deeper intimacy with the natural worldwe hear every rustle of a leaf, every call of a bird.  Widening the power of our imagination, heightening our senses, revealing beauty in the smallest details. ~ Chris Yates

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Strangely though I don’t get out and about so much in summer, there is always so much to do in the garden that I never seem to think about it – this year though I will take an early morning walk, before I get caught up in other things – and what could be nicer, before the day gets too hot and uncomfortable – yes that will definitely be going on my agenda, although we have a long time to wait before that happens – oh well, I can but dream.

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A few garden birds that I hope will hang around for the bird count at the weekend

let's go on an adventure http://piccsy.com/2012/03/picc-7a9cfkd2d/

‘Til next time – happy walking.

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