Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Let’s Take a Walk

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The foliage changing colors brings me closer to nature. I want to sit in the woods, listen to the rustling leaves swirl, and smell the musty scent of moss floating from the log behind me.

A two-minute walk to the park next to my house.
A two-minute walk to the park next to my house.

For today’s Freedom Friday, would you take a walk with me? It won’t be long. I just would like to show you my neighborhood. Maybe even make you feel what I feel when I look at nature the way I do.

Living in farm country affords me time away from the big city. Not only do I take frequent walks in and around our neighborhood, but I also slip into the woods every so often to enjoy the silence away from it all.

Path leading to the woods.
Path leading to the woods.
Entrance to the woods.
Entrance to the woods.

Our first stop is the park next to my home. Every year at this time, it bursts with color. The mornings are as if someone had taken several buckets of paint and splashed them on all the trees. Yellows are like pots of gold. Reds are deep and rich. Why not? Maple trees line the perimeter of the park and invite the stranger to visit the inner sanctuary.

The woods begin at the park and continue for a mile in all directions, cutting across a street until it reaches the farms. I’ve strolled the distance many times, getting lost in its winding trails. The crunch under my feet stops me from going further. I look around and see trees surrounding me. They are tall and strong. The squirrels are gathering food for the winter. The birds have long left the area, searching for warmer climes, escaping the coming winter.

I turn east and head for the stream, which resides at the other side of the street. Other than the gentle breeze caressing my skin, the rushing water breaks the peace and makes my mind wander.

The woods.
The woods.
Looking high above between the trees.
Looking high above between the trees.

I wonder what it was like a hundred years ago, during the times when the colonialists settled the area. Was there ever a person who sat in the exact spot I am sitting, thinking about the coming winter, dreaming about a hot drink by the open fire? Had anyone lived there who came fishing here in the summer, craving for a good catch to bring home to the family for the evening’s meal? I’m sure there was. How could there not?

Then I see more leaves float from the branches, creating a bed for the chipmunks scampering about below. It’s nice here. The tree limbs overhead provide a comfortable roof. Thankfully, it doesn’t feel like it will rain. I can tell when that happens. The animals disappear, the air tightens and a certain smell hovers over everything until the first drop hits the ground.

It’s getting late. I head back wondering what I will have to eat. The other night my wife made fresh baked bread. Oh, how I would love that again. The sweet aroma is hard to resist. After a long walk, it also makes my house feel like home.

Home. What a beautiful word. Calming. Peaceful. Happy. Home.

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What is your neighborhood like? Do you live where you can stroll in the open country?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

My Walks

If you haven’t figured it out, I write about a lot of stuff. Food. Travel. Photography. You know, the basic things that make life interesting. One topic I’ve mentioned in passing but never really delved in deeply is my affinity to taking walks. Those who know me know I’m out and about more often than not in the middle of the woods. Early to late fall is also one of my favorite seasons. Therefore, it goes without saying, I’m in my element during this time of year. And what better way to introduce my walking journeys than to write about them for Freedom Friday?

The long and winding path.
The long and winding path.

Someone asked me how I keep so trim. I would use the word emaciated but that’s just me. Thin is another polite word for saying I look all skin and bones. I don’t mind when folks call me skinny, after all, I am my mother’s son and she’s not on the meaty side either. So, it’s not really something I don’t know. Anyway, I answer whoever’s asking that I’m a walker. I walk everywhere. Even having a car, I still will walk half-an-hour to Main Street on a regular basis. I enjoy the coffee shops there. They’re cozy little establishments where you can grab a warm cup of pleasure. In the wintertime, I enjoy sitting in front of the window looking out to the traffic as folks slush their way through the snow.

I love this area.
I love this area.

Walking also provides me a time when I can think. So many wonderful ideas come from those one-hour sessions. I can’t say why certain thoughts come to mind whenever I’m outside stretching my legs. They just do. I go with it and see where they take me. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I do take long walks, I tend to resolve quite a few problems that way. If something’s on my mind, by the time I get home it will have disappeared.

Another side effect of a good walk is crossing paths with the animal kingdom. I’ve mentioned this before in my Autumn Photography post. Have I told you my biggest fear? Well, I’ve met with raccoons, rabbits, foxes, wild dogs, black cats, ducks, and geese. That’s it. I think. Wait a minute, did I mention coyotes? I haven’t met a coyote yet, and I’m not planning to either. But my biggest fear is skunks. Thankfully, I’ve seen them, but never startled them enough to race down the street like an idiot. I wouldn’t know what to do if one sprayed me. I suppose that would be the basis for a bad day.

The stream by my house.
The stream by my house.

I’ve also encountered my share of incidents during my constitutionals. One in particular strikes my memory. It involved a car and an immovable object. I was walking home, listening to music, when right behind me on the opposite side of the street, a car veered off the road, bounced on the sidewalk, tracked through a couple of front lawns, took out a porch, a veranda and finally came to a stop with its front-right side embedded in a house. Yes, a house. Oh, everyone walked out of there alive. Yet, the whole scene shook me. To this day, I can still remember how it all happened.

I always wonder what my life would be like had that car veered in a different direction.

Nonetheless, I still walk everywhere. And I’ll probably keep walking until the end of my days. It’s what makes me who I am. It’s what keeps me alive.

[Author’s Note: I wrote this a month ago yet only now did I get a chance to post it. Hence the fall shots.]

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you take walks? What comes from the exercise?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Browsing

I have a ritual I perform every weekend during this time of year. I’m not sure if anyone else does the same thing, but it satisfies my hunger for something different. What do I do? Early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday, I’m talking 7:00am, or late in the evening, 11:00pm, I hop into my car and head to Wal-Mart.

Paying for a good find
Paying for a good find (Photo Credit: Unknown)

Then, I stroll.

Yup. I amble through the aisles with one intention—to study the shelves. Why? I ask a lot of questions, don’t I? Well, how else would you enjoy Freedom Friday without my questions?

Getting back to my story, as I wander adjacent the neatly stacked shelves of the all-you-can-eat consumer buffet, I take note of the prices of items, how many sit on the shelves and the need of such items for our family. Things like picture frames seem always to make an appearance in my journeys since I’m rarely without my camera taking a shot of something interesting out in the wild. So when a nice picture frame comes on the market, I take notice of its quality and price.

Another item I look at is the TVs, then notice how my antiquated Sony Wega 32-inch CRT is so 1999. Every time I head to the electronics section, I lose myself perusing the digital displays hanging along the wall. Oh, to have one of those 80-inch TVs invade our home. But then I’d wonder where would we put it? There’s the whole problem of getting it into the house. Okay, that wouldn’t present too much of a problem since we have a double-door entryway, but where would we hang the thing? Seriously? We’re talking about finding a wall or an area filled with—virtually nothing. Hard to do in our house, considering we have stuff hanging everywhere.

Fancy big screen TV
Fancy big screen TV

Nice to dream.

Next stop, the book section. I love looking through the new releases, the older picks and the discounted items. I love the smell of the paper when I flip the pages, the look of the lettering when glancing at the covers, and the feel of the whole package in my hand. I get a high off of the gloss or matte finish the publishers use.

I need to buy more books.

Then I come upon the music section. Oh, how music inspires me. There isn’t a moment I don’t have the headphones on with some music playing in the background as I perform my daily routine. In this instance, I browse their CDs to check out the newest artists, albums, songs, and maybe even listen to a few samples.

Is there a point to this post? I suppose there is.

Every now and again, I enjoy browsing simply for the sake of browsing to see what stores have available. I also find it relaxing since I do not feel the pressure to buy anything. When I do come across an item that I deem as a good deal, I snap it up without a second thought.

I think browsing is a lost art form that presents unlimited possibilities on the budget.

And who knows, maybe one day I might just replace that old Sony Wega 32-inch CRT with one of those fancy widescreen monsters everyone raves about. It would certainly make for a wonderful surprise for the folks at home.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you browse the store shelves? Have you found any treasures in your travels?