My Winter Walks

My Winter Walks


Today's Outdoors Everyday Challenge comes from my dear friend Margaret. This fall Margaret moved from living in Toronto, to living full time in Dunchurch, a small town just east of Perry Sound. Luckily it turns out Margaret loves the wonders of the northern winter and today she shares a story with us.

My Winter Walks 

By Margaret May

I am just back from a walk along the country road where I live, a road bordered by fields and stands of trees. My intention was to get some exercise, which meant covering some distance at a reasonable pace. My intention is important, as it affects many other choices: type of shoes, clothing, walking poles, water, binoculars, camera etc.

walking on the lake

Sometimes I walk just to be in an amazing, unusual environment. I love to walk on a frozen lake (safety first!) revelling in the wonder of being ON the lake, surrounded by vast unobstructed space.

Sometimes it is to walk with a friend/s to catch up and share what is going on. Recently some friends and I noticed tracks in the snow and got very curious about what we were observing. 

tracks outdoors everyday

When I am outdoors my intention is to be aware, that is, what am I sensing, seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling.

Sometimes my walk is aimless, and I deliberately let go of destination or objective, more open to surprise.

Sometimes I walk to ‘clear my head’ or sort things out.

Sometimes I walk for exercise. I pay attention to my breathing, posture, pace, twinges. I play a mind trick by setting a short distance goal to keep my pace up, such as to the next bend in the road, and then I am ready to set another, and keep going, not slow down.

Sometimes I extend my attention beyond myself – the horizon, the shape of the landscape – lines, curves, the mix of space (field, sky) or structure (trees, buildings), sounds (birds, rustle of leaves and grasses), movement of the air, colour of the sky, the sun and clouds, colour and shape of shadows, ways in which trees branch.

trees and fences

Sometimes, I love looking for tracks in the snow. I think I can identify red fox from dog, and ruffed grouse tracks are a much smaller version of wild turkey. My pace is slower, distance walked is of no concern. If I am bird watching, I carry my binoculars and have phone apps open to help with identification. I have a new interest in looking for fungi. It turns out that knowing trees helps with identifying fungi. I have learned to slow down how I look, and tune into details.

The next time you go for a walk take the time to be aware. There is so much waiting for you to notice.  

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