Gary GruberCelebrations Fun Life Nature Winter WritingSHORT WALK, LONG THOUGHTS, DEEP CONNECTIONS
January 23 , 2023 /


On a cold January afternoon, I step outside the front door and start on a walk, turning south for a block, then east, walking on hard pavement, a street with no sidewalks, a street lined on both sides with houses neatly tucked back from the curb, their double garages facing the street. A variety of cacti are growing in front of most of the houses along with a few trees. There’s a cold wind gusting from the south, a warm sun for a counterbalance, feeling each one alternatively on my face, hands in my vest pockets.


After three blocks, coming to the end of the street, I pass through a gate onto a gravel driveway that leads to a water treatment plant in the distance. As I turn north onto a hard packed walking path, cleared on both sides, I see the trail ahead with trees on both sides and overhead, the trees forming a canopy. It looks like a tunnel through the woods.

I taste the remains of sweet pink grapefruit as I continue walking, wondering what else I might taste along this walk.  The path is lined with new green growth, signs of an early Spring and suddenly, the shadow of a large, flying insect across the path or was it a small bird? There are no birds in sight and no bird sounds on this quiet, afternoon, winter walk. As I approach the trees, I stop and feel the rough, dark gray bark of a mesquite tree and the smooth light gray bark of what may be an ironwood tree. I wonder if that is correct but I do not take the time to look it up or take a photo with PlantNet for identification.


I hear the sound of my footsteps on the hard packed sandy soil and look at the footprints of others left behind from their walks.  The treads vary along with their walkers.  I step onto a softer spot of sand and step back, looking at my own tread pattern and how it varies with the others, reflections of different people, their personalities, their choices in hiking and walking shoes. “Criss cross patterns for good traction”, I say out loud, with no one to hear but me.


Emerging from the canopied section of the path, I walk carefully down a small bank of a dry arroyo, no more than 10-12 steps, now more aware of the traction, across the arroyo and up the bank on the other side where the path turns 90 degrees west and continue on the upper right side of the arroyo for some 100 yards of open space to the sky, a fenced field of thick brush and shrubs. At one point the fence is broken and there is a narrow path from the field across my path and down through the arroyo to the other side.  It looks like a Javelina traffic trail, none sighted today.


I turn another 90 degrees to the north, a right turn, consciously aware of this exercise of walking – naming, describing and interacting suggested by Tina Welling in “Writing Wild.”   I appreciate being more fully present in these moments, sensing, absorbing, embracing and remembering with gratitude.  I see a few buildings of the Presidio ahead and a mile marker 0 at the end of this spur of the Anza trail leading to a trailhead and a parking lot.  Just before I turn again to the west, I see a dry leaf hanging on to a stalk of a  weed, twirling in the wind, Nature’s whirligig, engaging me in a few more moments of pure joy.  Instead of continuing on a different route home, I turn around and go back the way I came, a round trip of not much more than a mile. When I turn south, the cold wind is in my face, the sun warming only the right side, and inside I enjoy the benefits and rewards of my short walk, long thoughts and deep connections.

Comments (2)

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post, particularly the very descriptive and engaging details of your walk. I felt that I was walking with you – I pause and look at others’ foot-steps on my walks too, particularly when there is snow or wetness on the trails. Thank you for letting me walk with you!

    1. I thought of you on this walk, did not say so respecting privacy and figured you might enjoy the piece. If you haven’t seen Tina Welling’s book, “Writing Wild” it is right up your alley. I have fallen off the 3 pages exercise and hope to resume soon. Writing every day, sometimes short, sometimes longer pieces for no particular reason or audience, just transferring thoughts, observations and experiences from inside to outside and vice versa.

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