A Walk in the Park: Clear Copper

The Clinton River Trail-Avon to Rochester Road

My hip is feeling good today, so I am going for a ‘real’ walk. To me, a ‘real’ walk is about a mile. If your bones are like mine you’ll understand that I am setting myself up for a challenge even with that meager distance. By the end of this week, I’ll have a whole new outlook about walking.

I am a few yards into my walk. I am heading from Avon Road to the Rochester Road ‘intersection’. I chose this section of the ‘official’ trail because it’s high volume in terms of traffic and close to help if I need it. If I were more able-bodied, a hospital would be within walking distance. I am prepared this time. I remembered to bring my cane with me, just in case. I must have known subconsciously this was a bad idea! But for now, I am in heaven amongst the fat leaves and fresh rain smell of late spring. I come to a large handsome bridge with tall, decorative iron rails. The Clinton River snakes in a sharp curve under the bridge. It’s shallow here but looks like it’s moving fast.

There is a sandy ‘beach’ in the curve of the river. I enjoy the view for a few minutes, and then start walking again. I am walking slowly, but I am doing my best to walk ‘normally’, one foot in front of the other, without a limp as much as I can manage. Perhaps I shouldn’t have tried to force the issue. Sometimes, it’s more productive to take your victories when you have them in your hand rather than to risk dropping them by grabbing for more.

It continues to be pleasant here, with many people—passing me. It smells incredible along the way. A steady gentle breeze is blowing through the leaves making the trees look like they are twinkling in the warm, bright sunlight. I can hear the song of many birds tweeting and singing all around me. It is the very definition of a peaceful place, even if it is rather crowded. That wretched winter with its ridiculous polar vortex is finally gone.

While walking, I can feel the muscle burn—too soon. That was the first time; the thought that I was in too deep ran through my head. But, I am really not that far into the walk, not by anyone’s standard. So, I convince myself that it is nothing – it’s good to work the muscle – get some fresh air – take in nature – see people; smile and nod hello to them, or back to them. I ignore the signs that cramping will be setting into my thigh, just above my knee, soon. I put my cane down and use it. Nothing will keep me in the living room today.

As I am walking toward the ‘finish line’ a man on a unicycle drives by. I smile as a teenage memory comes crashing in. I would go over to a friend’s house and we would play tag on unicycles. It was fun, until he and his brother had some of the sort of unspoken argument and started playing tag – on the unicycles – with cattle prods. I was never that good at it, but they could ride like they were circus performers. I backed out gracefully. There was no way I would play tag with a device designed to move 1500+ lbs. of a cow while balancing on a unicycle!

I continue to walk on the trail, the unicyclist long gone now. I am ignoring the muscles starting to bark at me. Then I realize I stopped paying attention to nature as the thought I should maybe turn around entered my mind, again. No! My summer isn’t over yet! I refocus and force each step forward with a new – but careful mental resolve to finish this.

A few yards down the trail I find a bench overlooking a heavily wooded section of the river. I sit down, leaning back as I take in the floral scent. I look around for the flowers, but there are none. There is heavy vegetation and a lot of trees of varying sorts, but I don’t see so much as a half of a bloom anywhere. I breathe in the strong floral smell, feeling like a woodland princess sitting in this treed and vined alcove. It is perfectly shaded, and just big enough to fit the bench. I can see parts of the river here (I have a view on my YouTube channel.) I relax here for a moment before continuing on.

2014-06-16 19.15.43   2014-06-16 19.24.53 2014-06-21 18.02.32  2014-06-16 19.11.41

As I get up I immediately know I am in trouble. My quad and hamstring immediately go from barking at me to snarling guard dogs. I think, for the third time, that I may be in over my head. I steady myself for a moment and then decide that I am okay to continue on. It cannot be that much further — can it? I looked at the map, it didn’t appear to be that far? Perhaps I should have checked the scale of the map? I continue on for, and begin to think hey there has to be a trail intersection here somewhere! I know it, I saw it on Google Earth!

After what seems like, forever and fifty thousand steps, I finally reach the intersection of the Clinton River Trail and the Paint Creek Trail. And there is no place to ‘take a load off’ so I turn around and head back, stopping once again at the little alcove bench. This time, it smells like steak! I smile, from this view you would think I was way out in the wilderness, but I am not. I am walking adjacent to the backyards that used to be against the railway that ran through here. I wonder if that floral scent was even real. It was so heavy that perhaps someone was burning a candle (or several) before cooking that amazing smelling steak! The floral scent must have been an illusion like my hip had been at the start of this adventure.

I get up and continue on, each step now contains a mandatory limp as I heave my leg forward. I am thankful that I brought my cane since I am now leaning hard on it. I am wishing I had bought one of those walkers, with wheels and a seat. I sigh, I am again allowing the hip situation to invade my walk in nature. I refocus and then notice an enormous leaf I have seen in Michigan. The entire vine is full of these oversized leaves. There are also some flowers growing close by. I photograph them and take the photo break to enjoy them while resting my hip before starting on again.

As I come to the iron bridge I am no longer in denial about the fact that this was a really bad idea. I look forward to sitting and enjoying the river for a while before finally dragging my leg behind me to the car. However, there is a family there and I can’t sit down. It is probably for the best. It only would have been harder to get up from a rest since my mental endurance to the pain was now wearing down.

I stop and lean on the bridge railing watching the clear-coppery color water rush under the bridge. The water isn’t really copper; it’s the minerals staining the rocks in the river to look like copper in color. It’s so clear I can see straight through to the bottom. It looks like it is about two and half or three feet deep here. I watch as a leaf is floating down the river. I watch it weave and bob in the water, being tossed about in the river like it’s nothing, until it’s gone under the bridge and around the bend. It has no choice but to obey where the water sends it. It is too powerful and the leaf is too powerless to escape the river. {Historical Note: The Native Americans called the Clinton River, Nottawasippee.}

I take in a deep breath and prepare myself to take what will surely be a painful pivot-step away from the railing and set myself back onto the path. I finally make it back to the car. I look in disappointment at the clock, only an hour? All that ‘time’, and only an hour past! I want to burst into tears. Not even my hip’s good days are lasting. The fact is, the more I walk on it, the worse it gets. I know what needs to be done, but the thought that I need it hasn’t crossed my mind yet because it is just too pain to consider. I only know that the short walk I took today was too much, and I am unaware that I am just a leaf trapped in the river…along for the ride.

May your week be filled with peace and awareness of your position in the river.

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