Usually, a walk does its good work at the ten to twenty minute mark, depending on the weirdness of the day. Now that the days have become really weird, it takes a long time for my shoulders to soften and my breath to regulate. Sometimes, because I can’t take really long walks or walks in particularly special places, I don’t fall into the groove at all. But, in the end, it is all about the walking, the practice, “showing up,” as they say. You have to put the work in. My regular walking practice has been thrown off, and I am working on getting back there.
In my opinion, March is regularly a tough month–it’s really in limbo. Even more so than that cruel month, April. Things are battered and low to the ground, like us, and the only things that are growing are tiny and delicate, things that you have to get down on your knees to see. Which I do. Those are special moments–seeing the slender ramp shoots emerging, the mugwort’s delicate young leaves, the bright green rosettes of garlic mustard, the densely crenellated red and green leaves of the rhubarb. Each discovery is a special moment to savor.
There are a few times like that in my day that I look forward to–you know those little moments where time stands still for a sparkle of a minute? Lately, my new favorite moment is when I go outside at night to toss the coffee grounds on the compost. I slip into my rubber boots, throw on my jacket and hat, and step out into the yard. There’s something about walking out into that darkness; it feels like a weighted blanket and an anti-gravity cape all at the same time, both grounding and freeing. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but that’s what it is. I stand out in the front yard, and there’s a special kind of stillness I can feel, yet it’s not necessarily quiet. I can hear the chorus of the spring peepers–loud if it’s warm, quiet if it’s cold. The lights of neighboring houses twinkle through the still-bare trees. On a clear night the stars and planets wink and sparkle. On a cloudy night, the trees stand out, as they sway and creak. And in this moment when I go outside to toss the coffee grounds into the compost pile, there’s a nice large breath of space for me to hold onto.
I hope you are finding similar moments in your day.
Thank goodness for our internet right now, wouldn’t you say? There is so much we can explore and appreciate from our homes. For the past few months, I have been steadily enjoying Bryan Formhals’ inquisitive, intelligent, and enthusiastic weekly newsletter that focuses on “…walking, urbanism, New York city history, news about photography and photobooks, the attention economy and existential dread.” You can sign up for it here. He also just started a podcast with Tom Starkweather, Way of the Walk, which I am really excited for!
Did you know Mohonk Preserve is closed? And that Minnewaska State Park has been filled to capacity many times lately? There are so many other places to walk–may I suggest your own neighborhood? This density in not good for us or the parks. We should walk, but we should walk lightly.