Saturday, July 2, 2022

Walks in the woods...

HALLIE EPHRON: Is it just in my neighborhood, but in the time of Covid are you seeing an awful lot of people just out walking your neighborhood. Individuals. Couples. Strollers and power walkers. Dogs and no-dogs. Relaxed and maskless. Tons of them. 

And I've been among them, getting my exercise the easy way now, before the summer heat and humidity turn a stroll into a trudge.

Here's my go-to walk around a nearby pond. Twice around is just right. What is it about water and sky that are so therapeutic?


And a month ago, the woods near us were teeming with Lady's Slippers which, after consulting the Internet, I discovered are orchids and not (as I'd heard) illegal to transplant. Though I did not succumb to that temptation to take any home with me. (Worse, in my book, than leaving your dog's poop (or poop bag) on the trail. )

Lady's slippers were up in abundance. Singlets.


And in bunches.



Almost always the cluster of them at the base of a mature tree, nestled in a tuffet of pine needles.

And then on the way through the woods near a pond south of us, here's what I found.


After researching it at "The Feather Atlas" on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Forensics Laboratory's web site, best guess is it's from the wing of a broad-winged hawk. The web site also reminds users that feathers are protected and not to be collected by feather-hungry hikers such as myself. (A reminder of the many birds that went extinct in the service of lady's hats.)

So have Covid precautions lured you more into the outdoors as they have me, and what have you savored in your travels?

62 comments:

  1. We’ve always enjoyed being outdoors, so that hasn’t been much of a change for us. But the ticks are a bit of an issue this year, so we’ve had to be cautious. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of wildlife around and the deer still wander through . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: TICKS Here, too, in New England. It's really smart to shower and scrub after a walk. Esp for little kids.

      Delete
  2. Lured, but not only more into the outdoors, but to move where I could stroll. Where I was living walks had to be driven to and in the early covid times many of the walking paths were closed. Now I can walk out the door and on to the sand and see the vast ocean and the turtle nests and the birds and the shells or go the other way and see flowering shrubs all year long in door yards. Hallie, thank you for taking us on the walk through your neighborhood woods. Elisabeth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Ooooh, Elisabeth that sounds lovely. We had turtles on our beach in Mexico in the Yucatan. And passion fruit blooming. Memories...

      Delete
  3. I've always been an outdoor walker, so that didn't change for me. But yes, I think lockdown got a lot more people outside.

    Love the lady slippers and the pond! I have a pond nearby but you can't walk all the way around. Alas, around here, the trails through a couple of town-owned former farms make a lot of people behave badly with respect to their dogs, so I stick to the quiet back streets and the rail trail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Dogs on trails... don't get me started. The woods are dotted with plastic bags full of poop that for some reason dog walkers feel they needed to scoop but didn't need to take with them...

      Delete
    2. What is up with that? The poop is biodegradable, but the plastic immortalizes it! Bizarre.

      Delete
  4. Like Edith, I have enjoyed outdoor walks for many years. The early pandemic lockdowns only permitted solo exercise so I did see a lot more people enjoying this form of exercise in 2020 & 2021. Although I live in the historic downtown, I only have to walk 10-15 minutes until I get to either a riverside or multiuse trails that are surrounded by trees. At this time of year, it's great to see the many flowers, birds (ducks, herons, cormorants and the dreaded Canada Geese), fish & turtles. Occasionally, I also encounter 4-legged critters such as deer, rabbits, groundhogs & wild turkeys.

    But I only started walking 5-6 miles (8-10 km) in the winter when I joined the Capital City Walkers group in Ottawa. As long as I'm dressed properly & am wearing the right footwear/accessories (Icetrax), I now enjoy these beautiful long walks in the cold, snowy/icy weather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: That's a serious walk, Grace! And in winter?!? Good socks are essential.

      Delete
    2. HALLIE: True, I wear thermal socks & winter boots made for -40C/F temperatures, so I am never cold.

      Delete
  5. Beautifdyslippers!I

    I walk my dog in a conservation area by the Grand River. It was closed during the early lockdowns which gave it time to recover. When we were allowed back, the flora and fauna were much more in evidence. Wild flowers, deer, coyotes, birds both large and small, and mosquitoes. Apparently even the fish population improved. This year, all but the mosquitoes have retreated back into the deeper woods. I do have second thoughts about being there, but my dog doesn't chase things and I don't litter, so I figure I am as good as I can be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful lady slippers. Typing on the tablet=mistakes

      Delete
    2. Hallie here: Sounds lie a lovely place.

      Delete
  6. Hallie, your location for walking seems ideal. Water and sky have the same effect on me but I can’t say why.
    I like walking outdoors. Even before retiring, I woke up earlier to go walking before working because then, I sat at a desk almost all day.
    Living on a rural road, I enjoy all the transformations of the nature all year round. Presently there is a great number of birds, parents and babies and occasionally, deers or other animals.

    There is a camping farther on my road. Even before Covid we saw people walking, running or cycling. Cycling is very popular around here (single, couple and family).
    Danielle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Reminding me how we used to walk around in the office park during lunch. Very wooded between the buildings.l

      Delete
    2. I’m actually reading the French translation of The Island of Missing Trees by Γ‰lif Shafak and after yesterday’s post, I have to share how it describes the difference between optimism and pessimism . It says that it comes from an inability to forget. The greater your chances of retention, the thinner are your chances of optimism . I thought it was interesting.
      Danielle

      Delete
  7. Lottie and I walk twice a day. Sometimes if we're lucky, one of her dog pals is out and she gets an extra romp. There's a Portuguese water dog a few houses away who was a puppy at the same time as Lot. They play until he rolls her over and over and then we walk home. (He's got to weigh 70 lbs to her 14!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Until HE rolls over? LOL!

      Delete
  8. Lady slippers are such a treat! Our usual walk is along the perimeter of a municipal golf course. After two+ years, we know all the dogs (and many of the owners) by name. Our pandemic puppies will soon turn three. Lots of red-tailed hawks soaring overhead before they're chased away by nesting birds. Some turtles and mallard ducks. Flowering trees, red buds, crabapples, dogwoods and pear trees. Spring daffodils and now, coneflowers, daisies, and daylilies. Knockout roses in abundance. Raspberry monarda for the Fourth. Lots of deer munching on the above.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: KNOCKOUT ROSES! They're blooming in profusion here right now. I'm a wimp at growing things that have thorns but I love other people's

      Delete
  9. I love walking the dogs in the neighborhood, but I don't go as far afield as I used to. It doesn't matter though. A bit of exercise in the outdoors is good for the soul. I can't say there are more walkers than pre-pandammit. Most people in our neighborhood have either dogs or kids or a combo, and that means they get out and about most days. We also have a woods, Washington Grove, a 90 acre or so protected green space in the middle of the city. It has trees and hills and rills. deer and foxes and owls and wild turkeys, and ticks. But I can't manage the trails any more. Nevermind the ticks.

    Our house sparrows are raising their second brood of the season, loving the woodpecker house just outside the window. It's lovely to watch them trying to fill those little gaping yellow beaks. But I'm thinking of speaking with them about contraception.

    I hope all of you are having a happy 4th. We're celebrating from the living room, a mosquito free zone. Hamburgers and potato salad and homegrown tomatoes and strawberries from our CSA. All welcome, at least virtually. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: On the baby sparrows: someone's got to feed those hawks.

      Delete
    2. Oh Hallie! That’s cold!!! 😘

      Delete
  10. I'm lucky to live in the woods so hiking has always been a part of my day. I miss it in the winters, although I could snowshoe. I keep saying I am and then I look at the temperature...Nope. My snowshoes are pristine in the closet.

    The lady slipper pix are adorable. Haven't seen any this year, but there have been a number of Jack in the pulpits and more mushrooms than I remember from past years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: It's so much more complicated to get up and go out in the winter. In the summer just grab a water bottle (and for me, binoculars) and go.

      Delete
    2. KAIT: I wish I had easy access to forested hills like you do to hike/snowshoe in the winter. Carpooling was forbidden during the past 2 winters due to the pandemic. So I mainly have to stick to the multiuse trails which are flat and the snow is usually not deep enough to snowshoe.

      Delete
    3. I wish you weren't so far away - it would be fun to have a snowshoeing buddy! We're 10 miles from Clair on the US side.

      Delete
  11. Nice pix, Hallie! The hawk left that feather for you. I do enjoy a walk in nature. We used to really hike but it is harder now. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Like you for me it's harder. But I'm committed to doing what I can. It makes me feel so much better the rest of the day and sleep more soundly at night

      Delete
  12. Gorgeous photos, Hallie! Hope I am not too late to the party this morning. I loved this post about walking, I come from a family of walkers. I was reminded of my visit to Boston. A dear friend and her husband were living on Beacon Hill ? at that time. We walked from their flat to Boston Public Gardens. It was so beautiful there. Regarding the COVID, I remember the parks being closed to the public. Unfortunately, when the parks opened again, too many people showed up for walks. I love the outdoors and walking whenever I can. When I travel, I walk everywhere. I walked from Ebury Street to the Kensington Palace Gardens and to Buckingham Palace. I once saw Prince Edward teaching his daughter Lady Louise how to ride a tricycle. Closer to home, it is a lovely to walk on the campus of UC Berkeley (just watch out for the speeding bikes - lol).

    We are lucky to have that opportunity to take outdoor walks when there are opportunities to.

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Those motorized bikes are a problem - my grandson was knocked down by one in a park. Diana love that memory of Prince Edward and Lad Louise. Just like "real people."

      Delete
    2. So sorry to learn about the motorized bikes! I remember my hearing friends telling me that the bikes had no sounds. Hope that your grandson is okay now.

      Delete
  13. This comment section is starting to look like a message board for participants in the Witness Protection Program, all these "Anonymous".

    How lovely to see all those pink Lady's Slippers. I've only ever seen them in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; I think they must need acid soil, based on having only seen them under conifers in needle litter?

    I used to walk, a lot. Four miles every morning with a group of girlfriends, around a local park. And around the golf course/airport nearby with a various friends. But a foot issue that has gotten much worse in the last couple years has made that a painful idea. During the part of the pandemic when no one was going anywhere, our 3/4-mile long road was full of walkers, despite no sidewalks. Some of them continue to pass by on a reliable schedule, including Mark, who walks his two dogs a couple times a day, and Cookie, who walks her daughter's dog at least once. Jim and Erica, in their 80s have been walking around our neighborhood for decades together. They also carry a bag and pick up trash on their walk, and a couple other people have started to do the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Walking makes a community. Easier now without masks to know if someone's smiling at you.

      Delete
    2. Karen, I would like to be able to still comment with my name but blogger doesn’t want to.
      At least, I can comment and I try not to forget to put my name on.
      Danielle

      Delete
  14. If anyone would like to see my husband's film about his dad Karl Maslowski's life as a pioneering wildlife photographer, let me know. It's available online now, for free and on demand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please share the link, Karen. Anonymous Flora here.

      Delete
    2. Hallie here: SECONDING THAT!

      Delete
    3. Here's the link to the Vimeo. Ignore the "join now" button; you can view it for free without joining.

      https://vimeo.com/668320599

      Delete
    4. Thank you for the link, Karen. Danielle

      Delete
    5. You're welcome, Danielle! I hope you enjoy it.

      Delete
    6. Thank you Karen for the link. I watched the film and enjoyed it very much. (David Squires)

      Delete
  15. Just before lockdown I moved to an apartment in a relatively flat are which is also close to a nice little downtown. I used to walk for miles but can’t anymore because I need a new knee. However I can ride my bike. So I “stroll” on my bike for a couple hours through wooded areas along a river. It’s very calming. And sometimes there are chocolate eclairs at the end. 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Mmmmm eclairs! Sounds lovely

      Delete
  16. I walk with a group once a week (weather permitting) in a residential area. On the other days, I try to walk around my neighborhood before it gets too hot. My main joy is the cottontails I often see. For the winter, they disappear and I wonder where they go. So I am always delighted to see one or more of them. Yesterday it was an adult and a baby. Once last week it was five--3 in one area and two others elsewhere. I've even seen one in my back yard! For some reason, seeing a rabbit always makes my day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Cottontails are going to MY YARD! They nest underground below the bushes and come out and feast on my hostas. Vile creatures.

      Delete
    2. Oh, yes, rabbits! Good thing they are so cute...yup, hosta salad/

      Delete
    3. Seeing the neighborhood bunnies always makes my day too. We saw two (or possibly the same one twice) on our walk this am. This bunny thought if it sat very, very still, we wouldn't be able to see it :)

      Delete
  17. My husband and I were already walkers before the pandemic, but during it we increased our walking, and have continued that higher level since.(Essentially, we went from one good walk a day to two. When we both worked from home and could go nowhere else, it was really valuable for stress relief.)

    But honestly, we probably hiked less on trails during that time than we did before. We mostly just walked around our neighborhood, as it just felt safer. Getting better acquainted with the many parks and trails available to us is one of the the things I am looking forward to in retirement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie here: Susan, the same here. I've discovered a surprising number of walk-to destinations in my own neck of the woods. Up a hill on a zigzagging street to a golf course and water tower.

      Delete
  18. I live on a rural road, new houses going up, so new walkers appear. A metropark is just down the road from my house; we go there so the youngest among us (and sometimes Aunt Flora) can wade in the creek and see what there is to see and feel the cold water rushing along. I've seen red fox, deer, wild turkeys there. Frequently on my walks this week, I've seen solitary deer venturing out of the woods into nearby fields. I walk all year round, body permitting. Covid didn't really change much.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've definitely been on more walks in the neighborhood--there's even a tiny wooded park a few blocks away that Yale "gave" to the city. It's a scruffy bit of woods with a little trail that leads to their golf course. And just past the entrance to that is a house where the homeowners have turned their front yard into a decorative grass garden, along with giant metal sculptures of various animals, which are often wearing costumes--think woollies in the winter, purple and green beads for Marti Gras, etc. We call it the savannah and have to visit often. I also wanted to say that the title "The Feather Atlas" just struck me as so beautiful. I know it's just a basic description of the info it has from the gov, but think of it as a title for a novel! Hmmm. Cheers, all. -Melanie

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes, everyone is out. We've seen places in our neighborhoods where we've never been before! And who has the ild English gardens and who has the super-pruned shrubs. We have SO many chipmunks, too, and they are hilarious. And the butterflies are everywhere.
    And if you know just where to turn off a nearby street, there's path into the woods to a pond with fish and frogs. if you go down the path and around the pond, you come out the other side into a whole new neighborhood, which is kind of magical. And there's a truly famous athlete (not Tom Brady) who lives in that neighborhood, so we see people casually walking by his house. (Of course we'd have to be there to see them.) He apparently goes to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, so we are crossing fingers. (Though we'd never talk to him.) So there all kinds of outdoor attractions around here!

    ReplyDelete
  21. We've been year round walkers for years and noticed how many other people got out and about when Covid came along. We walk woods trails in the parks, trails along the lake, or paved bike paths near town. Love the wildlife - families of geese, foxes, and all sorts of birds.

    What irritates me (along with the dog poop) is the people walking with loud music. Huh? What happened to ear buds. If you don't want to make contact with someone you can look away. But you can't escape someone's music. My husband found an article on his newsfeed, something like 'Why do people take music into the woods?' That's what I'd like to know. Why isn't ambient noise enough? Why not use your eyes and let your ears rest. Don't people realize it scares away wildlife?

    Another peeve - one natural area (with a nature trail with signs explaining the local ecology and plant life) put in disc golf. Another one is thinking of doing the same. Totally ruins the nurturing experience of walking in the woods for the rest of us. One of the planners told us - the park is a recreational area. Yeah - walking, hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding. But disc golf??

    Ok. Rant over. Other than that, its great to see people out and about.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Rhys here: John and I have always done our evening walk. During early Covid we walked mornings as well and passed lots of people. We are lucky in Marin County with so many great walks

    ReplyDelete
  23. Coralee the sorta walkerJuly 2, 2022 at 11:47 AM

    I do walk, but health constraints keep me from walking in temps over 85%. This means I am a swimming pool walker at the moment. Will be dawn walking again soon. Love the photo of the lady slippers, another flower that I miss.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hallie, it's interesting you say "what is it about water and sky that is so therapeutic?" Last Saturday I was having a very stressful day, for a number of reasons, and was so busy I only let the dogs out in the yard rather than walking them or working outside while they sniff around. The next day, I went to Old Orchard Beach and walked them on the beach (it's allowed after 6pm) and instantly felt all that stress wash away. I had better perspective, I lost the frantic "I have to do eighteen things right now or the world will end" feeling, and was able to simply enjoy the dogs and the surf and the sky.

    Lesson to myself: when I least feel I have time to go outdoors, that's when I need to the most.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm a big walker and jogger and am out every day. During the lockdown, my daily walks or runs kept me sane. I love hiking and go at least once a week. There is something about being among the trees that is so healing.

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a lovely place to walk. I had thought lady slippers were protected and I had no idea that feathers weren't to be collected. You're giving me brand new information!

    ReplyDelete
  27. The Lady Slippers are beautiful, Hallie. I don't think we have them in Texas. I'm not walking nearly as much as I'd like these days due to knee issues and I really miss it. But I'm out in the garden a couple of hours a day, just keeping up with the hand watering! It always amazes how just being outside is such a stress reliever. We pay a lot of attention to the birds and the nature in garden. We both have the Merlin app on our phones and have been having a lot of fun recording bird calls for Merlin to identify. (Merlin is put out by Cornell University and is free!)

    ReplyDelete