Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Take A Walk

“So what do you have planned while Cody’s traveling?” a friend asked me just days ago, assuming I would spend the Kohl’s cash burning a hole in my pocket or buy a tub of ice cream and catch up on the Hallmark channel.
“We may have cows cycling into heat. So I’ll be keeping up with that.”

I’m not sure the gal understood anything about my week’s plans, but I didn’t bother explaining that I’d sit outside to watch for certain behavior coming from the lot to log estrogen cycles so cows can be appropriately bred and due dates are accurate. Stockman wives just spend their time differently.

Cryptic snapchat I sent to CS using my nose to type.
I didn't want to take off my gloves. 

CS has been traveling out of town and rather than sleeping later since there will be no shower line or parading through town in the evenings wrapping up (no pun intended) our Christmas shopping, I’ve spent more time outside.
Part responsibility, part desire.
My responsibility lies in checking all cattle, feeding a set of heifers and watching heat in the main lot. It’s easy work and I enjoy it. Ask me again when it’s -10º and some idiot cow has splashed enough water over the float water system to freeze the blue balls and cause mass chaos around waterer. Yeah, ask me then.

The responsibility forces me outside, morning and night, clean air filling my lungs and extra steps in my day. I’ve gotten into a routine of walking laps around a 15-acre lot before I start feeding or heat-seeking. The areas that I have to feed are well lit; the pasture is not. Before it gets completely dark – night falls right around 6:00 PM – I take a solo stroll.

I’ve come to crave this time, if only 35 minutes, of walking and thinking; or, not thinking at all. And before this somewhat recent routine, I have trouble remembering the last time I walked with no intent, no music or no partner. Only the crunch of leaves and twigs under my boots. It’s been a while.

I walk and see headlights in the far distance, traveling north, likely heading home from work. Even as close as we are to a highway, I can’t hear the steady traffic way out there.
Have you ever noticed that the quieter you become the more you can hear?

I walk and think about the long list of work responsibilities that lie ahead in the next three months. None seem as pressing when I recall them along a tree line with hedge apples wasting at the ground. For every thing, a time. Even during a season where everything seems to be dying off, it’s amazing the peace and life found in things that are growing.

I’ve learned that with every quiet walk outside I receive more than I set out to find. There are few endeavors I’ve taken on that have offered that advantage.

I never have a set path, though I do have a particular distance I like to make. My path may wind or cross or repeat, but it always gets to me to where I need to go. It’s funny: when I pass through that second red gate I never really know where I’m going until I get there.

Do you want to get a better night’s rest? Talk a walk outside.
Do you want to get more out of something than what you put in? Talk a walk outside.
Do you want to do something good for your body? Talk a walk outside.
Do you want to get your mind off the day’s trouble? Talk a walk outside  in uncomfortable shoes.

I’m no health nut (I love cheese), fitness expert (have ya seen me?) or tree hugger (just, don’t). But I do think there is power in getting out of the house and spending some solitary time in nature. And nature seems like such a vast cliché. Just get outside and leave anything with a battery on the kitchen counter. For 30 minutes a day.  How's that for basic? You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Worry not, you trivia tyrants; Alex Trebek will be on again tomorrow.

Looking back, I think there was a reason Momma always told us to “put on a hat and go outside to build character". She knew that we’d have a far greater advantage creating our own adventure by exploring the big world outdoors than anything Alvin and the Chipmunks could have offered.

Such a tough lesson when you’re six; 
a little easier to swallow at 31.

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