Winter Walk By the Lake

One day back in mid-January I took a nearly mile-long walk by the lake near our house. There was a blisteringly cold wind that froze my fingers and stabbed my lungs with each breath, but made me feel very alive.  It didn’t matter because my legs were working that day and the call of nature was beckoning. Her voice is always so sweet and calming, it’s a delight to wander at her bidding.

Look how far I went!
I think this was the dried leaf of lily pad that had blown out of the lake. I saw several in the grass along the trail.
This is probably a squirrel’s nest.
Delicate but solid. Open, but empty of life. Waiting for the promise of Spring.
Cirrus clouds stretching across the blue.
Vertical concrete against horizontal metal.
I got a wide-angle lens for Christmas. Can you tell?
“Eight. Eight ducks.” ~ The Count of Sesame Street
I’ve been taking P.T. of late to work on my balance and walking. This Canadian Goose can stand on one leg MUCH longer than I can 😜.
I wasn’t the only one trying to stay warm.
Green, yellow, brown, white, black, orange… mallards are a symphony of color!

An Unspoiled Autumnal Walk

This past Friday I got in the car and drove to an opening in the woods just down the road from our house.  Although the spot was less than a quarter mile away, and any other person would have walked, I drove in an effort to reserve as much energy as possible so I could do a bit of exploring.  With my trusty cane in my right hand and my camera around my neck, I entered the forest along a well-maintained track.  I’d never been to this area before, though I had been planning to check it out since noticing it after we moved earlier this year.  The first half of the pictures below are some of the things I discovered.  I wish I could share the smell and sound of the leaves crunching beneath my feet; the birds calling and flying in the canopy above; the babbling of the small, mossy spring where dragonflies were sunning themselves; and the joyful feeling that I had stepped out of the real world and into a children’s fantasy book.

These wild turkeys were sunning themselves inside a cleared and fenced off, old, private, family cemetery.
I like to stroll through old cemeteries and imagine what kind of lives the inhabitants had.  They lived through the Civil War era and were loved and missed by someone.
I found this old plow laying in another clearing in the middle of the woods.  I wonder if it belonged to someone in the cemetery.
Though water from the mouth of the spring was definitely bubbling up from the rocks, it clearly wasn’t in any hurry to go anywhere.
I was lucky my shoe was the only thing that got wet.  Wobbly, unbalanced, cane-carrying walkers should not try to walk from rock to rock in order to discover the source of a spring!
Once out of the woods and heading back to the car parked along the road, I noticed this and the following lovelies basking and enjoying the last remaining fruits of the summer.
It was such a beautiful day that I drove to the river and walked on the bridge for a few minutes.
The only cloud in the sky reminded me of a leaping frog.
These guys allowed me to take not only their photo but also snaps of the drone they were figuring out. They were flying that thing absolutely everywhere!
I love the color of these berries. Honeysuckle berries, I think…?
A little family of turtles warming themselves.
Leaf detritus on the bridge.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy the changing seasons wherever you call home.

God be with you! ❤️, Amy

I Want To Ride My Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bike

I have had several “good days” in a row over the past few weeks!  They may not have been anyone else’s definition of a “good” day, but to me they were. I have always tried to exercise in some shape or form each day for the past 26 years. For many years now I have been confined mostly to walking around the house for as long as possible before having to sit and rest.  Once I have recovered, I walk around again, rest, and so on. My hubby is an avid cyclist and I have at various times tried to ride with him. I start out doing okay, but inevitably wear out in spectacular fashion because I refuse to listen to my body when it starts to get tired.  As a result of my own stupidity, I end up having to stop riding for weeks or months.

In fact, the last time I dared to ride a couple of years ago, I became so utterly undone by the endeavor it took three solid months to come back to a baseline similar to the one I had previously.  After that, I promised never to do that to myself again and put my bike away in the deepest, darkest, corner of the garage. Like someone lost in a foreign country and unable to speak the language, I just couldn’t understand that I could do more over time by slowing down or stopping before inevitably self-imploding.
I follow several MS related research websites and have recently noticed an uptick of studies related to exercise and its effect upon disease progression, regardless of which type the participants had. Of course, exercise doesn’t stop MS progression and disability, but it does have a positive impact.  People who exercised to their fullest potential, even if wheelchair bound, retained more physical skills for a significantly longer period of time than cohorts who didn’t exercise on a regular basis. That got me thinking again about riding my bike.

I’ve certainly noticed a decline in my overall stamina, coordination, and balance for several months, despite my regular efforts to walk around the house.  I’ve also heard myself repeatedly telling my husband how jealous I am of him being able to ride. I got to thinking maybe I should push myself to try cycling again. So, with a healthy dose of trepidation, I put my courage to the sticking place, and pulled my cobweb covered bike out of its long confinement, put some air in the tires, and set off on a short ride.  I managed to get around our block five times in ten minutes before feeling the tug of tiredness. Yay for me!

Feeling encouraged, over the course of the last few weeks I’ve managed to slowly build up some stamina and increase the range I ride. I’d forgotten how delicious it is to feel the breeze on my face, to smell hay and wild honeysuckle in the air, and to hear the choir of various birds singing and chirping from electric lines and treetops. I’d also forgotten how it feels to get my heart rate up, feel the burn of long unused muscles, and enjoy the rush of endorphins when finally finished.

There have been days when I’ve only been able to ride for a few minutes. For example, my ride this morning was abbreviated because fatigue set in pretty quickly.  I had a feeling I wouldn’t make it long since my legs were already heavy and slow to respond to the demands of walking. However, two days ago, I was actually able to ride for 37 minutes!  Perhaps you saw or heard about Kayla Montgomery in the news a few years ago. Kayla’s a young track star who runs races despite the fact MS has left her unable to feel her legs. When the race is over, she collapses into her coach’s arms unable to get up or walk for several minutes or hours.  Well, that’s pretty close to how I am after each ride. It requires a lot of resting before moving on with my day and attempting to conquer other tasks like cooking or folding laundry. I’m trying not to be afraid of what will happen in the future with my MS. I’m going to do my best from day to day trying to obey the constantly fluctuating whims and fancies this dumb disease dictates because I want to be able to continue to enjoy the ride for as long as possible.