Winter walking

Sometimes the light and the shapes of a scene appeal to me, like this one. I can’t explain why I took the shot, but in the moment I was compelled.

During the winter, I posted photos from my walks during the summer and fall, so I could remember the warm days. Now that it has warmed up and things are turning green, I’m ready to take a look at my photos from over the winter.

I’m part of a racing team of walkers who are supposed to be getting ready for our big race in August. I honestly do not believe the race will take place, but some of my teammates think there is still hope (so we’ll just keep my cynicism a secret between us). For public safety reasons during the pandemic, my gym was closed and I’m attending University online – so my life is drastically sedentary. It’s not healthy. I take advantage of outdoor “training” to put a little activity into my life.

Where I live, winters are mild. The coldest days are usually in the 30s (around 0-2 Celcius) and it typically rains a nice steady persistent light rain that locals call “liquid sunshine.” Mornings are usually foggy. Afternoons warm up to around 40 (4-5 Celcius). Sometimes it snows and on those days I don’t go out. It’s too much trouble to travel, and typically it will all melt in two days, so I just wait.

My back deck over the winter, during our one big snow. On days like this, I don’t walk.
When the roads are clear, I can get out walking again.

In no time the snow is gone and we’re back to our mild winter weather. I have discovered a loop with a perfect length that begins and ends at my front door. It includes steep hills and flat areas and shade and sun. Lots of animals too, which I have been calling my fans who cheer me on from the roadside.

The first thing I have to do is bundle up. Long leggings, ear warmers, multiple layers, and gloves! Do you detect a colour theme? I told you I’ve been going through a purple thing.
This is what it looks like to walk up my driveway. My house is right behind me.
I’ve just left the driveway and now I’m on the road. There is an open field to the left that I am sure will have homes built upon it soon, and an orchard to my right.
Before long I’ve come across scenes like this.
An afternoon sunbeam gives the illusion of warmth.
A common occupant of the Pacific Northwest: a banana slug.
I love the snow berries so much. I keep meaning to get some from a nursery and plant them on my property. Of course, I always forget.

There are so many dogs along the way. Some bark ferociously at me and I keep my head facing forward and I do not change my pace and my heart pounds. So far I have not been attacked. I have been attacked and bitten by dogs multiple times in my life, so it’s always a worry. Some of them have come exploding off their properties, tearing across the grass at me, barking their brains out…and then decide I am their best friend and walk with me. This is the story of the two brown dogs shown below from last summer. My limbs tremble for the next 15 minutes as I try to tell them to “stay!” and “go home!” but these refused and I was stuck with them. Luckily that day I did an out-and-back, and when we passed their house again, their dad was there looking for them, and called them home when we came into view. There’s nothing like a battle cry and war charge to get Crystal to warm up to a dog. (not) The black and white one just popped up beside me out of nowhere once. I tried and tried to get it to go back and leave me alone, but it refused. It kept running out into the road in front of cars, and the drivers would scowl at me as they passed because I didn’t keep better control of what they assumed was my dog. The darn thing stayed with me for over two miles!! Ugh. I seriously do not like dogs.

I pass llamas, which I already showed you. And horses, which I also already showed you in previous posts. And cows. Deer, elk, chickens. Hm. I think that’s about it.

Christmas decorations, or more fans cheering me on?
I thought this rocky bank beside the road was quite pretty.
Why, hello my friend! I’m happy to see you are less covered in mud today.
After my 5.6 mile loop, I come back to my house. It looks sorta raggedy out front in the wintertime, before I clean up the flower bed and finish raking the rotting leaves. But it’s quite a victory to see it after an hour and 20 minutes walking. And look- the fire is still going!

Another thing I was doing to add to my training for the team was to sign up for multiple races. On March 7, 2020 I joined a race to support my local country community and the Columbia Pacific Food Bank. It was their very first year to host a race and to me it looked like a success. It was a bunch of fun and I was grateful to be allowed to speed-walk 10k. Other races I found don’t offer a 10k walk, only a 5k usually. This doesn’t make sense to me, since I walk almost a 10k (6 miles) all the time and it’s a reasonable distance. I was the ONLY person in the 10k walk category though. This may be why races don’t offer the 10k, and it’s definitely why I won a blue ribbon. I also was recognized for being the oldest racer in the 10k walk OR run. Thankfully they didn’t give me a ribbon for that so I didn’t have to go in front of everyone to receive an award for being old. There were some crazy cosplayers there just for the fun of it, called Furries. It’s apparently a thing. These characters take joy in making their own costumes and I think they are fabulous! They wandered around showing support, clapping, cheering, and making the event more festive.

The Furries agreed to have their photos taken with me after I crossed the finish line.

I was all signed up to participate in a much bigger event on March 14th- the annual Portland Shamrock Run. It draws thousands of runners and walkers, and is a joint event with a three-day health fair. On March 12th I went to both my classes on campus at Portland State University, feeling pretty nervous about being there. That day, the Shamrock Run and health fair was canceled. That evening, campus was shut down. I have not been to Portland since then. I have three photos taken on campus that last day. The last day for me that the world was normal.

17 thoughts on “Winter walking

  1. Quite the photo with you and the furries, Crystal. I laughed about your relationship with animals along the way. (A deer just appropriately went dashing across our deck.) When I was on my 10,000 mile bike trek I always talked to the animals. As for dogs, it depended. I’d slow down for little, fat barking dogs to give them a thrill. Medium dogs I’d put on a little speed. Bigger dogs I’d fly. Or I would stop, get off my bike and have a discussion. The only time I was bitten was on the heel by a sneaky dog in North Dakota. He didn’t bark and I didn’t see him. I felt an irritation on my heel, glance back and he was trying to bite it each time I came around. He got bopped on the nose with my bike pump for his efforts. 🙂 –Curt

    1. Curt, I pegged you as a guy who would talk to the animals along your path. I’m always talking to them (as you see in the llama video from my last post). My mom did that and I guess I just learned that it’s the way a person is supposed to talk to the animal world. I might feel a little better if I was on a bike, and had a chance of outrunning a biter dog. But walking, I know my best bet is to stay calm and keep steady. There’s a Doberman Pinscher at one place whom I particularly dread. So far, each time that one comes charging at me, his teenage boy is nearby and calls him back. These days I have fewer opportunities for conversation, because I’m being good and staying at home. I appreciate all the talks I have with the deer, the squirrels, and of course, my girls the chickens.

      1. I’ll bet you and your girls just cluck right along! Do they tell you where to finds the juiciest worms, Crystal. 🙂 I remember when my sister was small she had a pet chicken that would follow her around and Nancy would turn over rocks so the chicken could eat ant lurking insects! I had a confrontation with one really nasty dog in Tennessee. He was big and mean and wasn’t budging. Then fate intervened. A bee stung him on the nose. I was out of there! –Curt

    1. Thanks Derrick. I’m glad you liked it. I’ve been having fun sharing photos of my life, and I feel that videos do an even better job of conveying what it’s like out here. Also, you get to hear my voice, which is sorta fun in a blog community when we don’t get those extra bits.

  2. So lovely, Crystal! ❤ Thank you for sharing with us your walk, your environment, your house, your animals or better fans, and the last normal day. I have wonderful memories of my last one as well. Three photos I love in particular: "When the roads are clear", the cleaned up horse, and the penultimate one. What lovely green tones! And to see you all sporty and hear your voice and laughter is worth the most. Not bad at all, as winters go.

    1. I remember you glowing about your last normal day. I am grateful I took photos that day. It’s strange for me to think back to when I could go into a restaurant, or go into the city just to hang out on the sidewalks and browse shops for fun, maybe see if anything good is on sale. It was a careless way of moving through the world that I have a great appreciation for right now. Penultimate! Now you’ve turned the tables and I had to look that one up. Good on ya! Anyway, yes, the morning light on the new leaf buds – oh, such lovely greens. I’m glad you got a chance to hear my voice and my laughter – it comes easily. 🙂

  3. Loved the video of horses running to see you. They know a good soul. Those snow photos would be very refreshing mid to late August. I absolutely hate summers. I wish I could still walk that far but I don’t think I’ve ever had the time for it. I would not consider those fun. But you were built for it and it seems to come natural to you to walk and walk. In my younger days, I might have enjoyed it more. It’s so beautiful where you are. I could probably work up to enjoying that walk. I’m skeptical too that we are going to be doing much group anything for quite the while.

    1. I agree with you Marlene. It’s going to be some time before group activities came back in force. I think there will be groups of people who know each other who will gather first. But organized activities like a fund-raising race? Nope. No organization is going to want to take the risk of putting people’s health and safety in danger. Unless they are extremely strict about it, and make people stay six feet apart at the start. That would be hard to do. When it comes to being built for walks, I thought that’s what you Germans were all about!! You’ve got it in your blood, right? I definitely had to work up to making this loop. I took about three months of going out and back before I felt brave enough and strong enough to make the loop. Now I know the route so well, that makes it fly by. As long as I have an hour and 20 minutes, I can do it. I know you hate summers. I am so sorry you suffer in the heat. I wish I could trade my weather for yours. It’s cooler and wetter and cloudier here, and I’d be thrilled to give that away, ha ha. Tara hates the heat too. Called me from Corvallis yesterday so miserable they couldn’t even spend much time outside. This early in the year there is so much moisture in the air that the humidity was the main problem. Also pollen. Tara said “You can TASTE the pollen on your tongue.” I’m pretty sure I’ve never tasted pollen, but it is thick here too, coating all flat surfaces in yellow-green dust. Anyway, I miss you my friend. When I feel safer, I will come see you.

  4. Hi Crystal!! It’s been many months since I’ve posted on my own blog, let alone visited anyone else’s! I loved going on this walk with you, and hearing your voice and laughter in the video. The chickens brought a smile to my face and I remember when you first moved to your home and got chickens. If you get a chance, tell me what classes you are taking. Laurie

    1. Ms. Laurie, what a delight to hear from you!! I can relate to changed blog activity. Going to school has me so busy, I almost never look at other peoples’ blog posts. And yes, I’ll tell you about my classes. First of all, I retired last summer! So I don’t have to work, but I’m only 50 and I’m sure I can fit one more career in there before I stop. Also, I’m still supporting T in college, so it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to earn a little more. But….since it’s not really pressing…I’m not really sure what I want to do or how fast to go after it. I mean, retiring this early has always been a dream of mine. So, with a half-dozen caveats, I thought I’d try conflict resolution again, which is what I was aiming for when I got my Masters Degree back in 2007. In particular I want to work with tribes. I’m not getting a degree, just taking classes to make myself more employable. I took two conflict resolution courses last term to refresh my memory. This term I’m taking an archaeology class and a history of Pacific Northwest Indians. Turns out there are a bunch of Tribal Liaison type positions, that facilitate between tribal governments and the US government, but they all require a degree in archaeology. I am baffled by the logic there, unless it’s just a simple case of outdated patriarchy that assumes Indians are relics. Can’t see how digging for spear tips is going to prepare me for modern legal negotiations with tribes today. After 30 years with the feds… I’m a good hoop-jumper though. Just show me the hoops.

      And what’s going on with you, married lady?! How are you managing your business with all the changes? I hope you haven’t lost any patients. My love to you. ❤ ~Crystal

  5. What a dream place you have living with nature and the animals. Would love to explore more of your blog in my next visit. Cheers 🙂

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