Top Ten Reasons to Take a Walk in September

The Man of Steel and I went a little wild and crazy celebrating Labor Day, 2016. Not only did we visit the health food store and then order our favorite drinks at our favorite coffee shop, but we also took an early morning walk the High Trestle Trail. Here are 10 reasons for central Iowans to consider a September walk on the trail. For those of you who live far, far from the most beautiful spot in the world, many of the reasons apply to a walk in the woods anywhere.

10.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.Walkers who have horse phobias have no reason to be paranoid on the High Trestle Bridge.

9.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.This is a proper Iowa trail paved with smooth cement, and benches are strategically placed along the way for those who need to rest now and then.

8.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.Signs along the way let you know how many of the optimum-for-health daily 10,000 steps you have walked.

7.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.Wildflowers along the way will put you in a good mood.

6.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.Someone created the coolest bike racks ever along the path, too.

5.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.Fall colors are beginning to peek through with the enticing promise of spectacular autumn foliage.

4.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.If you stay alert, you might see late summer fawns with their mommies.

3.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.The sumac, oh, the sumac.

2.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.The view of the Des Moines River from the bridge is breathtaking.

1.  Why take a walk during September? Here are 10 good reasons.The High Trestle Bridge is a beautiful work of art.

Where do you like to walk in the fall? Leave a comment.

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Yes, It Is Still a Beautiful Hill

Five years ago, Fred showed me how beautiful the very steep hill along my daily walking route was. In my eyes, it still is.This post was a favorite of mine when it first appeared here on the Gravel Road in 2010, and it’s still one of my favorites on this Fantastic Friday. When you read it, I hope that you agree.

It’s a Beautiful Hill, Isn’t It?

The other morning, I was nearing the end of my walk, trudging up a steep hill in the park . Not wimpy steep. This hill is truly steep. And long. Very long.

A tall jogger approached from behind, huffing and puffing and gaining rapidly – so I moved to the side of the path. His arms pumping, he barely lifted his feet off the ground as he wheezed past. Still, he flashed a broad grin and gasped, “It’s a beautiful hill, isn’t it?”

I nodded at his long, lean, retreating back and thought of the young adolescent boy I’d seen a while earlier in the morning on this very same hill. I was on my way down the hill, and he was wobbling along on his bike, heading to the middle school.

We go to the same church, and I’ve watched him with interest over the years. Diagnosed with high functioning autism some years back, life hasn’t been easy for him. Social cues often escape him. Impulsivity is his enemy. Subtlety, irony and tact are lost on him. But thanks to supportive parents who love him unconditionally and realistically, he’s learning to cope.

As his bike swerved up the sidewalk, I stepped into the grass to give him more room. Then, I greeted him, the same way I always do on the mornings when our paths cross.. “Good morning, Fred!”

Most days, Fred’s response is a brief nod with eyes averted, nothing more. But this time was different. Fred braked, put a foot on the ground to balance himself and looked my way. “What’s your name again?” he asked.

“Jolene,” I replied. “Jolene Philo.”

Fred looked me straight in the eye and smiled. “Good morning, Jolene.” Then he swung his other leg over the bike and pedaled up his truly steep, very long hill.

I watched him tackle the steep incline he faces every day of his life. It is a beautiful hill he’s climbing, I thought as he reached the crest. A beautiful hill indeed.

Top 10 Reasons to Walk and Not Run

Walk Instead of Run

10.  Since childhood, my sympathies have been with the tortoise and not the hare. And who won that race?

9.   Running hurts.

8.  Being naturally sensitive to the emotions of others, I wouldn’t want to start running and be so exceptionally fast that I left everyone else eating my dust. I just don’t want to be that kind of person.

7.  Running hurts.

6.  If I ran instead of walking, I wouldn’t have enough time to think through the day and then listen to audio books. What good is life without story time every day?

5.  Running hurts.

4.  Running makes a person sweat. Sweating is gross. If A equals B and B equals C, that means running is gross.

3.  Running hurts.

2.  I’m committed to water conservation practices. Sweaty runners take extra showers, and I just can’t go there.

1.   Running hurts, and life is way too short for self-inflicted pain.

Those of you who prefer walking to running, now it your chance to be heard. Leave a comment about why you walk instead of run.

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New Year’s Sunrise

People who see the sunrise on New Year’s morning belong to one of two camps: those who left their parties at dawn, and those who went to bed early. As a member of the second camp, I was up this morning, waiting for enough daylight for my walk.

The thick clouds and persistent darkness weakened my resolve. For a few minutes I struggled with an internal debate. Should I go now in the depressing gloom before company arrives or wait until later, hoping for sunshine and enough discipline to walk instead of visit? I sighed and put on my shoes.

The light was weak and the gloom was heavy on my shoulders as I trudged along the lane. But when I reached the gravel road and turned east, a soft glow greeted me. By the time I reached our neighbor’s property, a riot of pink, purple and orange glowed behind the bare, black branches of the winter woods and tinged the dirty snow with color.

The dawn of 2009 looks gloomy from my vantage point. We’re in a recession. The stock market keeps tanking. Royalties from my book are two years away, and who buys books during a recession anyway? Our son, who has nothing and needs health insurance, needs a job. Where will he find one in this economy? And where will Anne’s college tuition money come from next year?

Worries weigh me down. But hope stirs within me as I remember the unexpected blessings of 2008: my first book contract, our son’s treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and his re-entry into our lives, to mention a few. Surely, the God who brought the blessings of the past will provide new ones in the year to come.

This morning I experienced the first blessing of 2009. In the dim light of a gloomy morning, through branches black and bare, I saw Him paint the sky.