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Mindful Thoughts

A Week of Winter Walking: Day One

By February 24, 20136 Comments
Clifty Falls State Park

Clifty Falls in winter

Having a week off from teaching tends to make me introspective. This morning I lay in bed thinking how wonderful it was that I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow. This was followed, in no particularly logical sequence, by thoughts about how very unkind I have been to my body lately.

Oh, sure, I get a monthly massage and a chiropractic adjustment. Just this week I had a pedicure; my toes are quite well cared for. The rest of my body is a wasteland. I spend a great deal of time on the couch doing just what I’m doing now—writing. Bent over a keyboard. I don’t spend nearly enough time moving my body around and this is decidedly unkind.

I have a book of daily yoga meditations I bought at the beginning of this year, and one from a few weeks ago says, “Practicing yoga is a loving act of respect. In your practice today, treat your body with the respect you would give to my body.” I puzzled over this at first. What exactly did she mean? Why would I be more respectful to someone else’s body than my own? Then a light bulb went off. I would be more respectful to someone else’s body than I would be to my own for the same reasons that I am more forgiving, kind, generous and patient with other people than I am with myself. Duh.

So this morning I resolved to walk. Then I thought, what the heck, why not walk every day? As horrible as February is, why not go out with a bang? For all these reasons, I am officially declaring this the Week of Winter Walking. At the very least, it will give me something to write about.

This morning, I started in Clifty Falls State Park, one of my favorite walking spots. We walked from the Poplar Grove picnic area to the Lily Memorial overlook. Then we sat, watched a couple of hawks circling above the canyon, and felt the sun on our faces. I was reminded, as I always am when I head to the park, that there is something deep inside me that unravels only when I am in the woods.

I’d like to try a different walk each day because it’s one of those rare weeks when I have the time, so I’m soliciting suggestions. What are some of your favorite places to walk? Do you prefer urban or natural terrain? Flat or hilly? Deserted or busy?


  • Lindsey says:

    Clifty was gorgeous this morning!! I definitely prefer a woods setting, and since I love Clifty so much, and a glutton for punishment, I would say that rugged is my favorite. One of my favorite trails (and the one I ran this morning) was Trail 1 to the observation tower, and then down into the creek. I can’t wait for the day this year that it’s warm enough to take a plunge in the creek and then continue running, soaked!

    • Robyn Ryle says:

      You are a beast, Lindsey. I can barely walk the trails at Clifty without killing myself, let alone run them. Taking a plunge in the creek in the summer does sound nice, though.

  • Neeter says:

    I just love downtown Madison for walking. No matter how many times I walk I always see something new that I never noticed before, love the river.

  • Jenny says:

    The river at sunrise or early morning – nearly every morning. It’s never the same walk by the same river even though I pass the same trees. I will often chant while walking to keep my mind quiet so I can actually enjoy the walk rather than rushing through my day in my head or think about some perceived worry or problem. If I chant, I see and hear. If I think, I miss everything. Quite often, especially in winter, I never see another person. The river is good any time of day.

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