by Cindy Ann Bowers
In my mid-thirties, I got a job that was a 30-minute walk from home. I’d been commuting about 25 minutes to the previous job and was really looking forward to shifting gears and walking to work. Right away I got hooked. My shift started at 7:00, so the world I entered when I opened my door was just waking up. Birds sang, the sky was beautiful and the smells of our neighborhood trees filled the air. I loved getting outside, getting into the rhythm of my body, experiencing the weather and arriving to work in a great mood.
Walking home at night gave my mind and body time to decompress from the day’s pressures. One evening a fox walked with me across the parking lot. Turtles, coyotes, turkeys, deer, a porcupine, and many other animals and birds shared my walks. Often now, I carry a camera with me to document the beauty of it all. I’m looking forward to seeing my first bear.
Over the years, I’ve worked at different jobs, been retired on and off, lived different places and have experienced many different walking routes. I’ve walked on beaches, in deserts, along rivers, through woods and in city parks. To begin the day with a time of reflection, exercise, and appreciation of nature is a true gift. I remember once in Juneau AK, meeting an elderly gentleman out on the trail that loops around the city. He told me he walked that trail every morning, rain or shine. I thought, well, that pretty much sums up one of my life’s goals, to start each day with a walk in nature.
A morning walk is a wonderful way to experience the joy of creation. Dawn is a daily reminder of the awesomeness of the natural world. It’s like a mini creation every single day. I love the energy and hope the sunrise brings. I get up, tie on my sneakers and escape the indoors to walk in the morning splendor. When I can, I walk directly on the ground; concrete and tarmac are pretty hard on the joints, plus it gives me a direct sensory connection with the earth, which benefits my body and mind.
So much of our lives is spent sitting, driving, working, hustling - dealing with people and people things. Going for a morning walk is a chance to develop a daily routine of gratitude and deep relationship with creation. Give it a try!
Note from Katie: I know. WNC is all about the hiking. The BIG hikes. The sweaty, strenuous, ambitious hikes. But maybe you're not a "hiker", just a casual "stroller". Maybe you want to experience more of Cindy Ann's "Creation Joy" and less "My-quads-are-killing-me Frustration". If so, check out these nice flat convenient places to walk right near home. We all may mall-walk at times for a quick convenient workout, but why not go explore God's Great Outdoors (in a non-shin-splinty way)?
Oklawaha Greenway Paved and flat with easy access and parking at Patton Park, Jackson Park, and Mud Creek bridge area on 7th Ave. My fav for plenty of moss, gorgeous purple wisteria bowers, plus the occasional hawk, ducks, and crane/egret/heron (I don't know which longy-necked birds they are, but they're HUGE!)
Downtown Hendersonville Paved and flat, plus window-shopping, ice-cream, and painted bears! There are birds, bees, and bushes even in more developed paved areas of town. Love it or hate it, check out the "Tooth" fountain.
Laurel Green Park Flat gravel path with parking, plus gazebo for resting and picnicking. Keep an eye out for "yoga turtles" that perch on the pond rocks doing their best arabesque poses to sun themselves!
The Park at Flat Rock Mostly flat, mostly dirt/gravelly paths with one last gentle hill to get back up to the parking lot. Don't miss the fabulous pollinator garden in the middle of the park!
Rhododendron Lake Loop Gentle rolling short loop trail around a lake with various surfaces - gravel, dirt, boardwalk. Slightly hidden gem right in Laurel Park with TONS of birds!
Blue Ridge Community College Mostly paved flat or gentle hills with plenty of parking - go explore the campus and feel like a college kid again! The lake area is gorgeous at sunset with fountains and choruses of frogs singing to you.
And of course...TRINITY! We're all here pretty frequently at church, but how often do you enjoy God's creation OUTSIDE at Trinity? We have a short walking trail loop that heads up to the Memorial Garden, through the woods, and back down again. All paved, most gently-sloped, but with one steep-ish part right at the beginning. There are benches and picnic tables scattered around our grounds where you can enjoy your nature walk (or a sandwich) at your own pace, plus some of the most beautiful gardens in town (thanks to our Horticultural Angels like Priscilla, Wayne, Diocles, and friends!). Come meet the hummingbirds, bees, rabbits, muskrats, grey and white squirrels, deer, turkeys, cardinals, and butterflies that are also part of the Trinity Family!