Since June, several times a week, five to six times to be exact, my husband and I have been walking a route with a rather steep incline, 3 to 4 miles a day.
I feel like we need to just take a minute and let that sentence soak in. Because that is truly an incomprehensible thought. I have the slowest metabolism on the planet. I have always said if it were any slower I would be in the grave. So to take on this activity is truly something akin to a miracle. I was telling a friend today that I don't know how in the world I got into this "zone" but I'm going to keep up with it as long as I can.
Anyway, on this walk one of the things we have enjoyed is watching the summer season turn into autumn. We have watched a potato field be planted, grow and harvested. We have watched an apple orchard produce sweet, juicy apples. I thought it might be fun to take you on our walk with us. So put on your tennis shoes, drink some water and let's go.
First we leave the house and walk the first 1/2 mile stretch to the highway. There are always two hawks sitting on a telephone pole. Since hawks are known to mate for life we assume they are Mr. and Mrs. Some days they are sitting close together. Sometimes they are sitting with a good sized space in between them. Other days they have been on two separate poles. I guess married hawks and married folks have some similarities.
As we approach the highway we make a game of measuring whether we can cross without stopping. There really isn't all that much traffic on it, so usually we go right on across. On the corner is a pasture with four horses in it. My husband likes to call out to them and now they know his voice. When they hear him, they usually start ambling over our direction. Next we pass a house on the left with two barking dogs who bark at us from the deck of the top floor. Their tails are usually wagging too so I think it's a case of "their bark is worse than their bite". At least that's what I choose to believe while praying for no close encounters with them.
It's at this point that our incline begins to increase ever so gently. In the beginning of the summer this is where I would begin huffing and puffing. Now I barely notice. We pass a home on the left that has a nanny goat tied to the outside of the fence most days. Apparently her job on the farm is to keep the grass short and she does a good job of it. Every evening she is moved to a different spot further on down the fence. A few days later, she starts over again. She is a timid soul and if we get to close she bleats at us. We usually tell her something like, "Good job Nanny, you should be really proud of yourself". She seems to understand as she stands still and watches us pass by.
Next we pass a potato field on the left. I love the musty, earthy smell of potato fields. Potato plants are really rather pretty, the potato grows under the dirt and the leaves are big and green. At the end of the season they are sprayed with a defoliant that kills the leafage and they turn all brown and shriveled. We were delighted one afternoon on our walk to watch a large scale potato harvesting operation come in and harvest the field, dumping the golden potatoes into large trucks. I have to admit that when they were done, we loaded our pockets with the little potatoes left behind and had a wonderful dinner for the next couple of nights. We figured it was a Biblical act - gleaning the fields like Ruth and Naomi you know ;)
This is now where the incline is getting very steep. I try to ignore that fact by studying the apple orchard on the right. What fun it was to watch the apple grow from blossoms to little green and finally dark red fruit. We have seen the process of setting the large crates throughout the orchard and watched the migrant workers picking them by hand. The other day my husband asked in his limited Spanish if we could buy some of the apples. The nice worker gave us 4 apples and wouldn't take any money for them. What a sweet treat on a long, hot walk.
Now the incline is seriously steep and I am eagerly searching for the mail box that is our marker - the place we turn around. Somehow I get a second wind and when we reach the mail box we talk ourselves into going just a bit further, up the steeper yet part of the hill to the irrigation canal. Two golden retrievers bark their greetings to us from the house on the right and we continue putting one foot in front of the other to the top of the hill. Whew! By now the sweat is rolling, the lungs are heaving and I'm sure I am going to die. But the thing is when I make it this far I know I have it licked because it is half way. My only choice now is to finish this route by turning around and going home. We usually make to our front door just as the sun is nestling behind the hills of the Owyhee's.
Inside there is a glass of ice water waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Drinking deeply of the sweet, cold water I mentally pat myself on the back for staying on track one more day. We talk of what it will be like walking in the winter. We look forward to seeing the fields and the orchard come to life again in the spring. I anticipate the long, hot days of summer again. Our goal is to walk this route for an entire year and then we might look for a new one for the next year.
This is such a small thing we have added to our daily routine and we marvel at how much enjoyment it brings.