For years, my morning was not complete if I missed broadcaster Paul Harvey’s daily human interest feature called “The Rest of the Story”. Mr. Harvey’s unique delivery, and the content of those newsy and informational tidbits, made you stop and think sometimes. After he passed away, my morning ritual was not the same.
So, I went up the AM radio dial and gravitated to WWJ-950. At this CBS station, I discovered Charles Osgood’s “The Osgood File” which is a similar, thought-provoking feature which appears several times daily. I always learn something from these short, witty and informative nuggets, some of which Mr. Osgood delivers in rhyme.
Yesterday, the teaser for “The Osgood Files” topic really piqued my interest. The subject would be the medical benefits of getting outdoors, and enjoying nature, especially by walking in a park. Mr. Osgood said that his doctor, as well as other medical practitioners, have a different type of prescription these days to reap physical and emotional benefits; the Rx is to head outside, discover nature, or go to a park to cure what ails you.
Here, have a listen and I’m sure you’ll agree: https://audioboom.com/posts/5848095-the-osgood-file-04-24-17-6-25-am?t=0
Mr. Osgood doesn’t have to convince me to go on a walk and commune with nature. I began a walking regimen in 2011 because my life had become way too sedentary since working from home, where my entire office area exists in my small kitchen. So, I began to walk and escape the confines of the kitchen on a daily basis. The following year I expanded my horizons, from the ‘hood to Council Point Park, where I could enjoy that nature nook and come home refreshed and ready to take on the day.
I know that discovering Council Point Park has changed my life. That escape from the neighborhood and into a natural habitat within a few short minutes of leaving home, is the perfect way to start my morning. The two-mile figure-eight walking loop takes me past a wooded area and up close to the Creek which runs the entire length of the Park. It is more than just visiting with a few squirrels or dodging the ducks and geese who cross your path. No, it is the feeling that you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of daily life and infused your mind with nature, if only for the time it takes to walk the loops that cut through the 27 acres of land that the Park encompasses.
I was hooked after my first trip there, and soon began toting a camera, bread for the ducks and geese, and some peanuts for the squirrels.
The more I walked, the more I was inspired to share my experiences about walking, thus this blog was born in February 2013.
This morning, the sky was gray and the air was crisp when I set out for my daily excursion.
I opened the screen door and glanced across at my neighbor Marge’s gazebo where, suspended from the tallest horizontal bar, are multiple bird feeders. Within the past few days, feeders filled with niger thistle seed and sweet nectar have been added to the other feeders, in an effort to lure the goldfinches and hummingbirds. Marge says that if the hummingbirds arrive this early, they will surely be wearing earmuffs. But, who knows? I saw a pair of Cabbage White butterflies flutter by just as I arrived home on Sunday and it was not that warm.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of yellow and black and watched a goldfinch dart over from the magnolia tree to hone in on those seeds, clinging to the thistle feeder as it rocked gently.
I saw no action in the wire mesh basket which houses the Mourning Dove’s nest that I wrote about earlier this month. The sole egg did not hatch on Good Friday as expected, but a baby dove did emerge last weekend, so the nest is crowded now and Mom sometimes sits lopsided on her offspring. A wooden birdhouse blocks my vision as to the goings on in that nest, but Marge had a bird’s eye view of the baby which she shared with me.
My eyes strayed from this next-door bird haven and I hurried down the sidewalk to begin my walk.
Who can resist the urge to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature? In a four-season state, even with our mild Winter, but cold Spring, we all share the same exuberance when the magnolia blossoms pop, or the leaves unfurl, or those hardy perennials poke their heads through the semi-frozen and yet-untended soil … it’s all good, and just makes you glad to be alive.
Nature’s wonderments leave us in awe sometimes, and beckon us to retreat to a place where life is simpler, and, for me that go-to place is Council Point Park.
This morning, I was an early bird and the Park was peaceful, the sounds were plentiful, and not a single utterance came from a human. The frogs were up, already croaking in the Creek water, their deep voices resonating in the quiet morn. The woodpeckers were drilling into the tall trees with staccato-like precision and the songbirds were trilling from their respective perches. Even the squirrels chattered at me while scurrying along a tree branch or while playing tag as they raced up/down and around the tree trunks and across the dandelion-laden grassy areas.
Every time I think I’d be wise to pick up the pace and get more steps onto the pedometer in an effort to get five miles walked in under one hour, I find myself meandering, both in my mind, and with my feet. Like investigating the origin of a big splash … my head swivels around, and there I go, off that beaten path once again, usually with a passel of squirrels following close behind.
But that’s a good thing.
As to the squirrels, after all, I feed those furry critters enough peanuts that soon I will have the ability to claim them as dependents for tax purposes.
Council Point Park is my refuge, a place to bulk up the steps on the pedometer, pump up my heart, and, yes, even do some soul searching.
As to soul searching, I do it while I walk along, but the benches that are strategically placed along the pathway are a welcome respite to gaze into the sparkling water and dream of faraway places, take a load off your feet, or, your mind. It’s a perfect spot to do some serious soul searching.
There is also sole searching. As you well know, if you throw a few peanuts on the ground by your feet, you’ll have squirrels galore rushing to greet you as you make your way around the perimeter path. In their exuberance for peanuts, sometimes the squirrels will try climbing up to my ankles, using the soles of my walking shoes like a stepstool. Whoa! Stop! I’m doling out the peanuts just as quickly as I can – geez.
Thus, you have sole searching … for peanuts that is.
The squirrels are needy and they sure know how to work a crowd.
Perhaps we humans are needy too – we need nature to soften our hearts and souls which have become quite hardened by the events of the day.