TONotL – Ideas for a Visit

The other day, I was describing my Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto journey to someone, and lamenting how COVID-19 is cutting into my ability to do something similar this year. It seems like it was a million years ago that I did that walk, yet it was only last autumn.

Since we are (fingers crossed) slowly moving towards easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario, and part of that recent easing includes the re-opening of some Niagara-area wineries for tastings, I thought it would be helpful to jot down where I stayed on my journey and where I had meals. If you are able to get out of Toronto, you might want to check out these places yourself.

Accommodations

If I were younger, I might have considered camping for at least some of my walk, in particular along the Bruce. If I had done that, I’d have had to stealth camp, because there’s no official overnight camping allowed in the various parks and conservation areas that the Bruce and Waterfront Trails cross.

Stealth camping means walking till dusk, setting up your tent and crawling in, and then waking at dawn to strike camp and get going before anyone comes along. Lots of Bruce Trail through hikers do it, and as long as you are discrete and respectful of private property, you can usually get through unmolested. Still, doing so would have meant carrying a tent, sleeping bag, etc. and that would have added 2-3 kg to my pack, plus extra food, and it would also have meant walking for longer days, dawn to dusk. I wanted the trip to be challenging, but I just couldn’t take the thought of it being that challenging.

Instead I opted for comfort. My muscles would be aching after a long day, so the thought of a nice hot shower each evening outweighed the thought of seeing if I could rough it. I picked all of these spots based on proximity to my route, more than anything else, but that said all of them were great.

An excellent micro-brew IPA from Bench Brewery
  • Shaw Club, Niagara-on-the-Lake
    • Great little place, a little bit off the main touristing stretch of Picton Street and yet only a few minutes walk away, and more importantly for me, just a few hundred meters from Fort George where I started my journey
  • Stone Mill Inn, St. Catherines
    • A converted warehouse property only a few hundred meters off the Bruce Trail, with welcoming staff, quiet, well-appointed rooms, and for me, HOT SHOWERS!
  • Jordan House, Jordan
    • One of the oldest taverns in Jordan, now with several rooms as well that are managed by the Inn on the Twenty. Simple yet close to the Bruce Trail and the bonus of a fab breakfast at the Inn
  • Crown Ridge B&B, Grimsby
    • A comfy B&B on the outskirts of Grimsby and literally across the road from the Bruce, where I had a large room with a balcony deck – it was great going to sleep to the sounds of crickets
  • Waterfront Hotel, Burlington
    • A clean, modern, mid-range hotel right on the Waterfront Trail by Spencer Smith Park in downtown Burlington
  • Waterside Inn, Port Credit
    • Another clean, modern, mid-range hotel right on the Waterfront Trail, this time beside the harbour in Port Credit
Breakfast at the Inn on the Twenty in Jordan Station

Meals

My basic plan, since I was staying at hotels, was to eat a hearty, healthy breakfast each day and a good dinner at night. That way, during the day on the Trail I could munch on snacks like dried sausages, dried fruit, an apple or orange, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and energy bars. When I’m working hard I don’t want a big meal anyway, and this meant I could have a snack at each rest break and keep my energy levels up.

The breakfast part worked out as I had planned, though the Inn on the Twenty where I ate after staying at Jordan House only served breakfast at 0800, so I lost a bit of trail time. Other than that, I really appreciated being able to fuel up in comfort each morning – instant coffee and oatmeal on the trail can’t compare to fresh fruit and a good strong cup of morning brew.

Similarly, being able to have a hot meal at the end of the day, and also I confess a good glass of wine, was a reward to myself. If you can’t earn your comforts and enjoy them, well, what’s the point? A good burger versus freeze-dried chili – what choice is that?

A tiny Niagara estate that makes a fantastic Pinot Noir
  • Treadwell, Niagara-on-the-Lake
    • A farm-to-table restaurant, they work with local Niagara-area farmers and producers to make memorable meals. Their sommelier is excellent and their selection of local wines means you can try stuff you’d never find on your own. It was a great way to get ready for my big walk.
  • Zees Grill, Niagara-on-the-Lake
    • We had breakfast there, as it’s attached to the Shaw Club Hotel. We were served outside on the veranda, and it was a lovely soft first-day-of-autumn morning.
  • Jonny Rocco’s Italian Grill, St. Catherines
    • This restaurant is attached to the Stone Mill Inn, which was just as well since my feet were tired and stiff after day 1 on the Trail. It’s a casual place with homemade Italian dishes, and their make-your-own-pasta was really tasty. I had penne, marinara sauce, fresh spinach, and flor di latte cheese. That’s how you carb-load for another day on the trail.
  • Cora’s, St. Catherines
    • This breakfast chain has a franchise on Tremont Road, where the Bruce climbs the escarpment, so you’re just meters from the Trail. I ate there the morning of Day 2, and got a big plate of eggs, toast, and fried potatoes with coffee for under $10. There are many locations around Canada and they’re a great option if you’re tired of Tim Hortons.
  • Jordan House Tavern, Jordan
    • It’s a pub, and it’s got all the pub good things you’d expect. The food is fresh and prepared in-house, so the burger and salad I had were made from high quality local ingredients, and the beer was a local micro-brew called Bench IPA.
  • The Martini House, Burlington
    • I took my parents there since we’d connected for the evening as I was passing through Burlington. This restaurant is a favourite of my in-laws, though I guess it’s quieter when they go there for lunch than it was in the evening. The food’s pretty good – I had a fab vegetarian dish and the wine list is simple with some good value wines.
  • Tim Hortons
    • If you don’t know what a Tim’s is, then where have you been? While they are predictable, they’re everywhere, convenient, clean, and good value. Plus you get the bonus of listening in on the regulars that seem to congregate in every Tims I’ve ever been in.
The courtyard outside Treadwell in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Let’s hope that COVID-19 stays under control. Please do your part by respecting the advice of public health authorities. Together we’ll get through this, and back to normal.

Neighbourhood History

You are probably getting bored with me starting off a post by saying, “I was out for a walk in my neighbourhood” and I am getting tired of going out for a walk in my neighbourhood, but given COVID-19 is still hanging about I’m trying to do my part by sticking close to home.

At any rate, a recent walk took me I past an older home that I’ve always assumed had a story behind it, but I didn’t know what it was. Right now, there’s this sign out front, as they do work on the house.

As I learned, it’s known as the Snider House after the original owners, and it dates back to 1820, one of the oldest houses in Toronto.

this is it in 1923 – Toronto Public Library archives photo

I had seen that it had sold a year or 2 ago, and then in the past few weeks the dreaded construction hoarding went up. Too many times, this is a cue for imminent destruction. Fortunately, it’s a designated Heritage property which avoids:

I see these signs all over our neighbourhood. On one street nearby, in a 100m stretch there were 3 houses that have been demolished with new infill underway.

I’m happy that Snider House is being restored. It’s beautiful example of Victorian architecture and it’s a reminder that Toronto actually has a history, something we keep trying to erase every time we tear down a perfectly good though older home to replace it with something new.

I get it, on one level. In our case, we spent several years and hundreds of thousands renovating our last house, a 1920’s detached 3-bedroom in mid-Toronto, and in the end we still had a detached 3-bedroom home. Had we knocked it down, for not much more than we ending up spending on renovations, we could have had a larger 4-bedroom that would have been worth at least 25% more than what we eventually sold at. If you want all the latest modern wiring, heating, plumbing, bathrooms, kitchens, energy efficiency, and comforts it’s often cheaper to start with a blank slate.

And yet, when that happens up and down a street the character starts to change. Many mid-town Toronto neighbourhoods date from the 1920-1940 period, and were originally quite uniform with a mix of detached and semi-detached 3-bedroom 2-story homes along with some 2-bedroom bungalows. That characteristic look lasted for the 1st and 2nd generations of owners, into the 1970’s and 1980’s, but by the time the 3rd and 4th generation came along, the urge to modernize and extend became too strong to resist.

And so we have today’s streets, where many of the original homes, to my eye charming red-brick well-proportioned places, have been replaced by larger boxy stucco-sided 4-bedroom houses that loom over their neighbours. There are now so many that that they’ve started to blend together, but even so, to me the proportions of the homes have lost something. They are more spacious, more open, more energy-efficient, and just more. But do we need more? Can’t we renovate and improve without replacing?

Near the street with the 3 new houses, there’s another home that’s undergone extensive reno’s and is now just about finished. I’m sure it was pricy to renovate instead of tearing down, but I’m glad that they resisted the temptation to tear down a perfectly charming, functional place that just needed to evolve into the 21st century.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle are supposed to be our environmentalist mantra. Use less, use it longer, and then hand it on for other uses. On my way home from my walk, I passed a toddler toilet seat that had been outgrown (proudly I bet) and left out for someone to claim and use for a new toddler. It seemed an apt metaphor – poop happens. Learn from it.

A Walk to a Beginning

On Thursday this past week, our son turned 18, and on Friday he graduated from high school. It prompted a different kind of walk, memories instead of miles.

My wife was pregnant and fighting bouts of nausea that we thought were food poisoning before we learned it was morning sickness, on the morning of September 11, 2001. And now, at the other bookend of his 18 years, our son is graduating into COVID-19.

Both events have changed the world, and it only begs the question about what the next 18 years of his life will bring. We had been planning to head to Halifax in the autumn to deliver him into the arms of university life at Dalhousie University. Now, that’s on hold – he will still start classes in the fall, but online, with dorm life at the residence of Mom and Dad. Not what he or we had expected, but the new normal for his fellow graduates.

So what do you do with these kinds of situations? You learn from them, I think. In many ways, his journey through life till now has had more emotive and socially-changing events in it than I remember experiencing at his age, and I can only see more on the horizon.

It also means that the plans my wife and I had are changing too. We won’t get to walk the Gaff Point Trail this autumn, as we had planned, but we’re hoping we can do it next year. Maybe he can start in residence in Halifax in January. Maybe it will be September 2021. But in the meantime, we learn and we grow and we move on. All roads come to a fork sooner or later.

Happy Birthday Rowan. And congratulations. Now comes the fun part.

Walkers vs Dog-Walkers

Walkers walk. Walkers of dogs let pets take them for walks, a significant difference.

My preferred routes often take me through the local streets, parks, and ravines of Toronto. While many of these parks have off-leash dog run areas, I grew up in a small town in rural Southern Ontario so when I was young everywhere was an off-leash dog run area. Today we fence in our pets, and designate park plots for pooches to poop.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like dogs. It’s just that I cannot always say the same for walkers of dogs, aka dog owners. I do make an exception for dog-walkers, aka the pro’s. In my neighbourhood there are lots of families that own dogs and who employ professional dog-walkers to exercise Fido during the day. Generally speaking, these folks are just that, professionals, and keep their charges under control. Sharing the path with them and 4-5 bounding terriers is tolerable.

Walkers of dogs, however, are like amateurs in many things – long on enthusiasm and short on technique. In normal times, on weekends there would be the unleashing of the hounds as the walkers of dogs came out, families with their pets. In today’s COVID times, this is a daily occurrence. In many cases, these non-professional dog walkers fall short of the standards set by their workaday employees. Let me count the ways

  • Poochie is precious; all my attention must be on him
  • Poochie is rambunctious; isn’t he cute!
  • Poochie is curious; ooh, what have you found in that man’s shoe?
  • Poochie is poopie; over there Poochie, poop over there!
  • Poochie is ignored; can’t you see I’m on my phone!
  • Poochie is in my way

Come on folks – share the space and smile at your neighbour. Poochie and just want to walk.

Little Scenes: Life Observed While Walking

One of the great things about walking, whether it’s in my neighbourhood (maybe especially in my neighbourhood), elsewhere in the city, or just out in the country on a trail, is that you continually see little scenes that register mentally but somewhat unconsciously as I wander along.

You can be in a kind of tuned out zone, just walking and not really aware of what’s happening around you, and then some little detail will catch your eye or your ear. These little scenes fascinate me. Shakespeare said that all the world’s a stage, so I think of these as life’s little paragraph plays upon that stage, unconnected on one level and yet part of the world-weave that includes each of us.

I keep meaning to write down these scenes as the impressions register, but it’s a pain to type them into my phone as I walk and when I get home I’ve often forgotten them. Occasionally, something will jog that hidden memory, and over the past few months I’ve been collecting these little postcards until I had enough for a post. Et voila.


I overhear a woman as she gets out of her car and goes into her house, keys jangling as she gestures with one hand while talking into a phone held with the other: “I told you, that’s too much”. And I wonder, what is too much?

A squirrel runs down a tree to the edge of the road, and hesitates, hesitates, hesitates, and then dashes part-way across, sees me coming, stops, turns, turns about again, hesitates, and then sprints the rest of the way to climb a tree, spiralling so that it says hidden from me as I pass. Do bold squirrels live longer, or is it the cautious ones?

I’m walking by the lake, in winter, and there is a thin skim of ice just formed along the shore. As a light breeze disturbs it there is a faint crunch as the ice breaks up, and an almost imperceptible squeak.

I walk past a magnificent magnolia in bloom, just as a gust of wind cascades pink flowers across the sidewalk. Spring snow.

A woman pushing a stroller walks past, oblivious to me and to the child as she talks into her phone, and the child looks over at me and smiles, unnoticed by its mother.

A little guy riding his bike with his mom says “I’m sooooo tired” as he passes me, in just the tone that brings the image of our 3 year old instantly to mind.

On a little side street, 3 gardeners in a row are lined up like life-size gnomes with their colourful gloves and hats, each kneeling and digging amidst their early spring flowers and each oblivious of one another, and of me as I pass.

On side streets all round my neighbourhood there are little monuments, signs, and tokens. COVID-19 has people hunkering down, and at the same time looking up for once, to see the many people who work day in and day out to do the little things – stock grocery store shelves, clean hospitals, prepare and deliver food. I think, when this is over, will new-normal mean old-normal for the cleaners and the shelf-stockers – out of sight and out of mind?

I’m walking on one of the first nearly hot days of late spring and a young woman jogs past – early 20’s perhaps. I see the literal bloom of youth on her cheeks, long legs and easy grace, and think to myself, youth is beautiful. Can I appreciate that she’s gorgeous, purely on an aesthetic basis, now that I’m old enough to be more than her father? (Don’t say grandfather!) Like the girl from Ipanema, she doesn’t see me. And then the moment passes – steady on Nabokov, I think. Don’t get purvy.

Walking in Glendon Woods, my mind goes back to when I attended the school and walked these same paths. There are new leaves and shoots all around me, and the only sound is the West Don River mingling with the birds. It’s warm but not hot, earth-rich scented. There’s no one around. I could be alone in a forest 1000 km from here. Where did 40 years go?

When Will I Stop Walking in a Pandemic?

I guess the title of this post has two meanings. When will I stop walking? Will it be because I get sick? Will it be because my wife or son or someone I’ve been in contact with gets sick, so that I have to go into self-isolation? Will it be because the province or city completely locks everything down?

And then the other meaning is broader – when will this epidemic end? When will restrictions lift, and some normalcy return? When do I have to stop criss-crossing the street, doing the the covid dance to keep my 2m separation from anyone else?

So which comes first – me being shut down or the epidemic ending? It’s what everyone is thinking. It looks like we’re talking months for all restrictions to be lifted, and probably at least a few more weeks here in Toronto before even a slight loosening. Recent briefings from the Ontario government talked about being prepared for 2nd and 3rd waves that stretch out 18 or even 24 months from the start this past March, and for a gradual, step-by-cautious-step return to what we hope is the old normal over that time. We’re in this for a longish haul it seems.

So when you look at it like that, a certain fatalistic, carpe diem attitude is likely. Remember that Bobby McFerrin song? – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

And can I just take a moment to remind you about some dos and don’ts about walking while we’re in the middle of this:

  • Do – keep 2m apart while making space for others by stepping into a driveway or off the curb onto the roadway if you need to
  • Do – try to walk on the left side of the street so that if you have to step into the road you can see the traffic coming towards you
  • Do – give extra space for someone who might be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19
  • Do – smile at your neighbours and fellow walkers 😉 – we’re all in this together

  • Don’t – walk about in 2s, 3s, and 4s crowding others off the street
  • Don’t – forget to look up from your smart phone
  • Don’t – ignore the birds, flowers, sunshine, and SPRING! now that you can actually hear, smell, and appreciate them
  • Don’t – be that person who’s so self-absorbed that they actually think this epidemic is all about them and how they’re the only ones inconvenienced by it all

Just Keep Calm and Carry On

And oh by the way, let’s hope we keep that idea once this finally settles, because waiting in the wings there’s climate change to be tackled, not to mention paying back the $billions borrowed to fight COVID-19. We’ve got a challenging decade in front of us. If the 1920’s were known as the Roaring ’20’s, then this coming decade may come to be known as the Pooring 20’s, or better yet the Soaring 20’s as we not only get back on our feet, we use our new-found resolve to face even bigger challenges. Humans are smart, resilient, toolmakers – 5 million years of evolution have seen to that.

In the meantime, embrace the little things – like a box of Rice Krispies when that’s what you crave.

Happy thoughts: How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the times we live in

Over the past few weeks, as I’ve been walking in our neighbourhood, I’ve been taking pictures of the many signs and sidewalk chalk art that I’ve come across.

They’re a mixture of happy thoughts and admonitions. There have been some that are too big to capture – I saw a chalk art design today that took the whole width of the roadway on Manor Road just west of Mount Pleasant.

Humans are nothing if not adaptable, and one of the ways we’re adapting to COVID-19 is to create art. It’s a reminder that we’ll get through this.

In the words of her Majesty the Queen – “We’ll meet again“.

Walking Books

It seemed like a good time to republish this list of books about walks and walking. Enjoy some armchair trekking while practicing Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic!

And on to the regular post …..

Stay healthy!

There have been many books written about walking – the techniques of walking, the destinations, the journey, the effort, the spirituality, and so on, and there will likely be many more to come. This is a by no means exhaustive list of those books in English which I have read and which have inspired me. I’ll update this list from time to time as I come across new ones. Let me know which books about walking have inspired you.

Author/TitleDescription
Author: Bill Bryson
Title: A Walk in the Woods
ISBN: 0385-408161
Comic, instructive, insightful, and far better than the film made of the book. Read it and draw inspiration from a middle-aged guy who found the determination to walk a big chunk of the Appalachian Trail.
Author: Nick Hunt
Title: Walking the Woods and the Water
ISBN: 978-1-85788-643-6
The subtitle is “In Patrick Leigh Fermor’s footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn”. Wonderfully well-written, charming and inspirational.
Author: Nick Hunt
Title: Where the Wild Winds Are
ISBN:978-1-85788-656-6
A follow-up to his previous book, walking in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor. In this new book, he walks about Europe tracing the paths of famous winds – the Foehn, the Mistral, and more.
Authors: Lonely Planet
Title: Epic Hikes of the World
ISBN: 978-1-78701-417-6
A candy store of a book, with more than a hundred walks worthy of your bucket list. Dip into it on a rainy winter’s evening and make your plans.
Author: Barry Stone
Title: The 50 Greatest Walks of the World
ISBN: 978-178578-063-9
A subjective listing, of course, and somewhat overly interested in walks in Europe, but nevertheless it covers not just the biggies – the Camino de Santiago, the Appalachian Trail, etc. – but also many lesser known, shorter walks that are bucket-listable and achievable by the average walker.
Author: Levison Wood
Title: Walking the Nile
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2633-7
An account of a walk the length of the Nile river. The journey is fascinating, the people he meets are more so, and the landscape is bucket-list stuff.
Author: Rory Stewart
Title: The Places In Between
ISBN: 978-0-14-305330-9
A lyrical book, inspiring and engaging, about the author’s walk across Afghanistan in early 2002, just after the fall of the Taliban.
Author: Will Ferguson
Title: Beyond Belfast
ISBN: 978-0-14-317062-4
Funny and informative, the author walks 800+ km along the Ulster Way in Northern Ireland.
Author: David Downie
Title: Paris to the Pyrenees
ISBN: 978-1-60598-556-5
Part travelogue, part history, part internal meditation, the author and his wife set out to retrace the medeval pilgrimage route through France along the way of St. James, to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.
Author: John A. Cherrington
Title: Walking to Camelot
ISBN: 978-1-927958-62-9
Two Canadians walk the McMillan Way, from Boston to Chesil Beach through the heart of rural England, drinking in history and savouring the journey.
Author: J.R.R. Tolkein
Title: The Hobbit
One of my favourite books, re-read many times, and far better than the overwrought movie version. The story is about much more than a walk, and yet Bilbo Baggins’ sub-title, There and Back Again perfectly describes my walks.

Still Walking in an Epidemic

When I wrote about taking walks during the COVID-19 epidemic a couple of weeks ago, I knew that social changes were coming, but even so I didn’t that things would change as quickly as they have.

Just 3 weeks ago, COVID-19 was serious but still something that impacted someone else, somewhere else. Now it’s here, in Toronto, and very much hitting home. The city and the province have declared states of emergency. Neighbours and acquaintances are in self-isolation. At least one relative has tested positive for COVID-19. Our parents are tucked up at home and sitting tight. Stores and shops are closed or only offering delivery. Our son is home and is probably done school for the year (thankfully he received early acceptance from Dalhousie University so we don’t have to worry about marks).

It seems that plans are being adjusted and changed day to day. And that’s just the precautionary impact. So far, we don’t actually know anyone who’s been seriously ill, but it feels as if it’s only a matter of time.

So there’s a carpe diem feeling in the air to some extent, which is reinforced by spring fever when the sun comes out and then tamped down and mixed a feeling of uncertainty and doubt, especially when it is gloomy and rainy. You want to keep living and enjoy life, because it appears to be just a matter of time before a full-on city-wide lockdown is declared, or worse, you contract it yourself. At the same time, you know more is coming and that we’re still on the bad side of the curve.

Walking is a distraction in times like these, and of course we’re all feeling cooped up and in need of exercise. For the first time in weeks, I’ve actually gotten out 6 days out of 7 this week. I try to keep my distance from others, so I weave from one side of the street to the other as people approach, or walk in the roadway. There are lots of people still out walking dogs, especially as the off-leash dog parks are now closed, so there are still more than a few people out on the streets, and anyone with young kids at home is trying to keep them active. All of it means that in some ways it’s actually harder to find peace and quiet on a walk, even though vehicle traffic is lighter.

One thing I’ve noticed is that, in addition to the usual flotsam left behind by the receding snow tide, there is a new line of jetsam – latex and plastic gloves. 1000 years from now, will archeologists puzzle over this clue?

It’s quieter though – you can hear the birds, the chuckle of squirrels and the rustle of the breeze in the trees. The air is cleaner too, I have to admit that. Turns out that taking cars off the road makes it easier to breath – who knew! It’s ironic that with petrol cheaper than it’s been in almost 20 years and with light traffic about, now is the time for a road trip, but no one wants to be far from home and meeting strangers.

Will that shrink our horizons? Just a few weeks ago, people thought little of jumping on a plane or in the car and buzzing off to New York or Montreal for a weekend. Now we hunker down within a 1-2 km radius – New York is the other side of the moon right now, and in full lockdown even if we could get there.

So I keep walking, even if it’s just in our flat. I can do 5-10 minutes at a time, pacing back and forth across the living room and doing stair climbs as well, and can get it up to 4,000 or 5,000 steps in a day that way. Mostly I try to go out and walk the neighbourhood, careful to touch nothing on the way in or out (I’m getting good at using my elbow to turn the door handle and my foot to push it open). Our son has put a big sign on the powder room door as you enter the flat, to remind us all to WASH HANDS.

Sign of the times.

Walks in Spring Redux

I’ve walked in the spring before of course, and each year there’s an anticipation to getting out and enjoying some warm weather. The parks and trails have cleared of snow as March progresses, and I’m starting to hear birds as they return. It hit more than 15 C the other day to bring out the early shorts wearers, and the sun is always welcome. So why not get out, go for a walk, soak up the warmth, and get some exercise.

That’s been my plan for the past few weeks, to be honest, but it’s been a slog staying motivated and getting out regularly these past few weeks. The weather has been up and down, with clear days then rainy ones. Paths are muddy and the woods are dreary without their green shoots. We are still a couple of weeks away from buds on trees and the first spring flowers.

But this is a spring like no other I’ve known – the elephant in the room is the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing means trying to limit contact with others, and in our case, we have been self-monitoring because my wife was at a conference recently and at least one attendee has since been diagnosed as having it. We’re fine, and it’s been 11 days now, so I don’t think there’s an issue, but still it makes you think.

My fallback when early spring weather makes a walk unappealing has been to catch some spring training baseball to remind myself that warmth and blue skies are on the way, and I could do that earlier in March but that’s now on hold due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Thinking about baseball reminds me that, if you are a batter and the pitcher throws 4 pitches outside the strike zone that you don’t swing at, then you get to go to first base with a “walk”. It’s telling that there are different verbs used – you “earn” a walk, or are “awarded” a walk. It’s like it’s a prize.

So for me, spring is the perfect time to “earn” a walk. I earn it by feeling healthy and able to go out, so I can “award” myself a walk as long as the weather gods pitch me some decent weather. Social distancing is important, of course, so choosing where to walk to avoid people is part of the planning now.

But since my energy levels have been low this spring, that’s a reminder that Getting fresh air and exercise is important. I’ve gotten a bit out of the habit of long regular walks so I need to jump back on that horse, COVID-19 or not.

Hi Ho Silver indeed.