Sunday, January 17, 2010

Midwinter musings

Walking in the greenbelt has been interesting in the past week. The weather warmed up quite a bit – into the high 40s to mid 50s in the afternoon – which caused a lot of melting of the snow that’s been lying around. As a result, the concrete paths are in some places submerged, and the dirt paths are a quagmire of mud and slush. It makes for slow going.

As I’ve walked this week, I’ve had to pick my way and alter my route a bit. This led me to going different ways than I usually do, and reducing my pace. On either end of the big square that is the openspace I usually confine myself to, the path goes under the main road in a sort of low-ceilinged tunnel. Even on bright sunny days, these tunnels are dark, chilly, and rather creepy. My hackles go up as I peer into the gloom, and my instincts say to avoid them. I find this interesting. While they are both only the length of the road above, and I can see the path on the other side, they have an “unsafe” vibe about them. I wonder if men ever feel this way, entering a dim confined space. As a woman, I have learned to pay attention to my inner voice, and it has served me well. Still, I also have an active imagination, and I have to talk myself into doing some things, like going into places that make me shiver.

On one side of the park, the tunnel is where one crosses from one county to the next, and this is apparent, regardless of the posted signs, by the change in the path. It goes from smooth wide concrete to narrower blacktop. The surroundings immediately are more urban and littered. The noise level increases. On a bicycle, I think I’d be more inclined to follow the path and find out where it leads, but on foot, this is where I turn around and head back.

I see some interesting people walking in the greenbelt. There’s a code of conduct that is unwritten, but understood, that one is supposed to stay to the right (to avoid being run over by cyclists) and briefly acknowledge the person(s) you meet heading the other direction. This is usually accomplished with a nod, a smile, or a “hi” – or all of the above – but every once in a while you run across someone who is oblivious. There is one guy who I’ve observed wandering around in the greenbelt talking to himself. No, he’s not on a Bluetooth, looking crazy; I think he may actually be a little unbalanced. He wears a shiny blue baseball jacket over his shoulders, which reminds me of my little brother, armless sleeves flapping in the breeze. He stops in random places and looks around in what seems to be either indecision or paranoia, and stares at other walkers like he’s not sure what they are. He looks to be in his late fifties, but it’s hard to tell. He just may be grizzled looking because he doesn’t take care of himself.

There’s an Asian woman who always gives me a big smile and wave, passing in a cloud of perfume. There are lots of dogwalkers, including the ones who either don’t know or don’t care that the greenbelt is NOT a dog park, but a wilderness area, and these are the ones that don’t keep their dogs on lease and probably don’t pick up their poop. There are the families with the little ones riding bikes while mom or dad follows on foot, sometimes pushing strollers. There are the serious runners, and the middle aged folks ambling along. I was stopped the other day by a woman who asked me about the coyotes in the greenbelt. She had seen one during the day, and I guess she was afraid it might have been dangerous because she thought they only came out at night. I assured her that while they generally keep to themselves, it isn’t all that unusual to see one in the afternoon.

I hope the paths dry up soon. I am much happier roaming the walking paths or following a mountain trail than toiling away in a gym. The complex I live in has a gym, but it smells of sweat and feet, so I don’t go in there very often.

1 comment:

  1. That's it - I'm sending you a can of mace, STAT!