Weekly Walk 51

On the autumnal equinox, in 85-degree, sunny weather, we took our fifty-first weekly walk. For the first time, we forgot hats.

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We’d had one very rainy day and one somewhat rainy day earlier in the week, and the creek had enough water in it that it was actually flowing.

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To my son’s delight, there was enough water that he could make a huge splash by throwing large rocks into the creek.

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Bonus: His sister’s legs got splashed even though she was all the way up on the bridge.

We saw more fungus along the trail this week.

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The milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) nymphs were out in force.

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And the spiky plants by the fallow section of the corn field had produced fruit.

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The look of the foliage and fruit make me think this is a nightshade, but I can’t figure out which one. It looks a bit like Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) except that the ripe fruit is black rather than yellow.

In addition to water, fungi, true bugs, and putative nightshades, we also saw more human beings than we normally see. We saw two walkers, a jogger, and two bicyclists, all wearing specialized exercise garb.

Since we moved to Massachusetts in 2011, I’ve struggled to keep healthy and not to gain weight—or rather, not to gain any more weight than the ten pounds I put on in our first months here and which stubbornly stick around despite all of the exercising and healthy eating that I do. In the car on the way home, as I carefully passed a lycra-clad cyclist on the narrow, bicycle-lane-less road, I reflected that the times I’ve felt my healthiest and maintained my healthiest weight were times when I didn’t wear special clothes to exercise. I got lots and lots of physical activity but it was spread throughout the day doing regular stuff, like walking or biking to get groceries, attend classes, go to playgrounds, and visit libraries and museums and friends’ houses. I made sure I wore comfortable shoes and clothes appropriate to the weather, but never anything especially for exercise. Because I wasn’t “exercising;” I was just moving.

The towns around where we live now just aren’t set up for that way of living, and I feel frustrated because there’s really nothing I can do to recreate the walkability of Mountain View or Palo Alto or Salt Lake City here in our distal suburb of Boston. So I, along with everyone else, am stuck driving nearly everywhere and then trying to squeeze in special exercise time rather than having movement just be a part of my lifestyle. Even more frustrating, everyone around me seems reconciled to living this way, even though our lives—or at least our health—depends on living in a way that moves our bodies more. Or maybe they’re not reconciled; they just don’t complain as vociferously as I do.

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No way, rustic tree-trunk chair. You don’t tempt me. I spend enough time sitting on my backside.

At any rate, it’s autumn now, and it even feels like it. I’ve finally washed our winter coats, hats, mittens, scarves, snow pants, and Polar Buffs, and our flannel sheets are on deck, ready to keep us toasty while we sleep once the freezing temperatures arrive. One more hike and our year-long hiking challenge is complete. I wonder what I’ll find to complain about for my week fifty-two post. Oh, the suspense!

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