A Walk In the Wintertime

It’s wonderful what the sunshine does for a cold day. Without it, I don’t know I’d withstand the winter, and it’s not like I live in Iceland. Southeastern PA winters typically have a few very cold weeks, some big snowstorms (which I actually welcome for the stay-inside coziness) and more likely, freezing rain which is awful for everyone. Today, though, bright sunshine streamed through my window as I meditated.

This afternoon, I’ll take a walk in the sun, bundled up in my puffy jacket, hat and gloves. Our neighborhood has a walking trail that runs along the Neshaminy Creek. I’ve seen a great blue heron there, and two red foxes. The water flows faster when there’s been a storm, and sometimes it rises so high it overflows its banks and the trail is full of mud. Not today, though. I’ll walk down Birdie Lane past townhouses to where the trail goes downhill and over a small wooden bridge that was just replaced this fall, the wood still fresh and unpainted. A young family took their group picture there at Christmastime, the little girls in pretty clothes.

Past the bridge, I’ll continue to a bench where I’ve seen a young man sitting beside the creek. It’s a quiet, beautiful spot, if you can ignore the sounds of traffic on the road behind it. The tall trees make the path feel secluded. I know there are white birches, and lots of vines and weeds, but the names of the other trees escape me. Some are quite tall, which tells me they are old, here when the area was a golf course over 30 years ago.

Past the bench and trees, the trail comes out to another bridge across a small branch of the creek. On a map, the Neshaminy looks the veins of the human body branching out in all directions. Last summer I saw kayakers here but usually the water is too shallow. Kids fish there with their dads, and sometimes teenaged boys fish alone.  

After the second bridge, the trail climbs closer to the road and it’s on this stretch that I have to raise the volume on my phone if I’m listening to a podcast. The hill takes my breath away. Sometimes I walk backwards, to give my thighs a break. At the top, I could go straight to the shopping center, but I don’t. I haven’t since the Starbucks closed. My neighbors Flossie and Bob are still upset about that.

I turn right into Eagle Lane, which is still part of my townhouse complex. At the top of the cul de sac, an old man sits in his garage on a folding chair, and when I pass, says “Hiya, hon,” and sometimes remarks on the weather. When Steve walks with me the old guy doesn’t call me “hon.” It irked me at first, but now I just let it go. I just want to keep walking. Past the house with the sports car with the Mr. GRITS vanity plate. Past the ones with the beautifully maintained perennial beds, lying dormant in January. Back on the trail, downhill toward home.

Do you have a favorite walking trail? What or whom do you see there?

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