This past spring I stumbled onto a new resource for stress reduction. I take a leisurely 30-minute walk every day. I go out each day, regardless of weather.
I've skipped a walk here and there due to tightly scheduled time or unexpected circumstances. On those days I clearly missed the walk. So I'm prioritizing it.
The walk is no less or more than 30 minutes. It's not meant to be exercise. Errands don't count. I can stop whenever I like to take photographs with my iPhone. Sometimes that means I don't make it very far from my apartment. That's fine. Distance isn't the point.
You can read about how I got started here.
When I wrote my first post about this topic last spring I was just beginning to take this walk each day. I liked what was happening and decided to continue. I wanted to see if it kept on helping me with stress. I wanted to see what would happen.
Here's what happened.
Spring turned into summer. Daffodils and tulips made way for roses. Many of those have drooped then died. Lilies are everywhere. Lilies are having their moment.
There was something of the miracle in spring. The flowers did their delicate dance, poking through like it was the first time ever. There was something pure and primary about it.
I'm a city dweller but the natural world has a way of jostling through the concrete. And so it is with summer. This summer is good and settled in now.
Where spring was young and gay, summer is languid and a bit sexy. The flowerbeds are a jumble of just bloomed, slightly sour and gloriously cloying. It's like too much perfume only good.
There is the hint of the exotic in this summer. Everything I see has been around the block and back.
The heat and humidity slow me down. I don't complain. This walk is only 30 minutes long and there's no need to exert myself or hurry. Given a choice I walk on the shady side of the street. I'm a shade-seeking individual. So is my camera.
I take photographs every time I'm out. I keep some, delete others. One of the reasons I find these walks relaxing and rejuvenating is there is no real agenda except to stay out for 30 minutes. There's something meditative about it. Walking slowly and looking around, taking photos, some good, some bad. This might really be my version of meditating.
In practical terms, my walks serve as a much-needed break or incentive when I am working on things that are demanding and require discipline. It seems to help with stress. It's free. It's available.
I keep doing it because I enjoy it. I keep doing it because it's working. I keep doing it because it's something I can count on.
Most of the time I go out for my walk at a predetermined time, based on what else is happening that day. I don't choose my 30-minute block when it's "nice" out, because it's sunrise or because it's cooled down. It's more of a process of elimination. I can't go when I have a meeting. I can't go while I'm cooking. I can't go when I'm taking care of my children. I can't be in two places at once.
So from 9:00 - 9:30 or 2:30 - 3:00 or 7:40 - 8:10 it is. It doesn't matter. Whatever is out there is out there. Morning rain shower, late afternoon sun with long, inky shadows, hazy miasma, warm, forgiving dusk light. It's all good.
My thirty minutes are up. I walk into my apartment after my tiny journey. My air conditioner and iced coffee with soy vanilla greet me. I left the meandering outside and I snap to, smart, sharp and ready to take on whatever it is.
I took the photographs below during two thirty-minute walks on July 7th and July 8th.
I was attracted to the rare coloration of this saturated and fragile bloom.
I don’t know what kind of plant this is. It sure is orange.
It’s unusual for me to go inside during my strolls. I’ve been eyeing this lobby for a long time and saw an opportunity. This is the latest addition to a series I am working on called Mid-Century Modern. I love the clean lines, optimistic looking palette and whimsical tiles paired with the poignant wear and tear.
This might be one of the last Hydrangeas to bloom. This is but a section of the giant white orb, drooping ever so slightly in the heat.
Mid-day light and shade on the weathered wall of Park Terrace Gardens.
I almost never see anything representational in my abstractions. This time, I saw an eye in the knot of this tree bark.
The same sun and rain that nourishes the cultivated flowers also supports the weeds. My latest in the series I call Hardscrabble Plants.
Another view of the elegant and mysterious plant bearing exotic red flowers.
These lilies are heavy with their own loveliness.
A mess of daisies.
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