I honestly couldn’t think of a thing to write about this afternoon. Yet, the blog needs a post! I turned back to the posts of previous Mays, looking for inspiration.
In 2017, we walked along the lake at this time of year and someone broke her elbow in a fall and DROVE HER CAR home afterward. Intrepid!
In 2018, on May 24th weekend, there were just a few of us walking the lakeshore in a monsoon. We thought 8 kilometres in a storm was taking it easy.
In 2019, I celebrated Omar Khayam’s birthday, rather than Queen Victoria’s, by quoting some of his pithier verses.
In May 2020, covid was settling in. We had no idea it would be for so long. I walked the lake alone and was delighted to meet 2 TPW folk walking in the other direction.
In 2021, we had learned a lot more about covid and I wrote a very grumpy post about it.
So I guess I need to say that in 2022, we are learning to actually live fully with covid. We had a great walk in the cemetery this morning (IN SHORTS!) and enjoyed meeting for coffee in the “church park” afterward. It all feels pretty normal now. Amazing!
What a beautiful week! All the flowering trees are showing off their blooms and the birds are hanging around, waiting to be admired. For the record, the redbuds, apple blossoms, and a Cooper’s hawk made me slow down even more than usual today in the cemetery.
Speaking of the cemetery, we have been asked by one of the security folks to refrain from parking along the roadway to the left of the entrance gate. He asks that we park along smaller roadways and perhaps not all in the same place. Some walkers are going to check out the area near the heroic monument (the Stavro memorial) at the Mt. Pleasant Entrance to the cemetery. We will park on the smaller roads near the fierce animals and then walk to the usual Yonge Street gate. This will also help us add more distance to our Saturday and Thursday walks.
And speaking of walks, it was quite warm today, reminding us that we usually start walking earlier during the summer months. As of June 4th, we will begin our Saturday walks at 8:30 AM. Thursday and Tuesday times to be discussed separately. Now get out there and admire the beauty we are so privileged to have around us in this city!
This Saturday was beautiful – sunny, cool, perfect waking weather. Walking with friends has got to be the best tonic available! We at the TPW have known this for a long time but now it’s showing up in medical studies all over the place.
1) 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (you can talk but not sing) gets you a stronger heart, lower blood pressure, clearer thinking and sounder sleep.
2) Post mortem brain scans of active elderly people showed that they had more of a class of proteins associated with healthy cognition.
3) An average of 4,500 steps a day significantly lowers the risk of dying, every increase of 1,000 steps lowers the risk by 28%. (My math skills are dubious but this seems to imply you can live forever if you walk enough each day,)
4) The kindness and empathy exhibited during these walks helps us do better mentally and physically with illness and adversity.
5) Getting outside causes stress levels to fall by 60%.
6) Walking boosts immune cells to fight off infection.
7) And the nap after the walk helps the body regulate its inflammatory response.
April has been a cruel month – and we are not even two weeks into it. In fact, this week alone brought the horrors of war in Ukraine, the resurgence of the pandemic, the apparent rise of the far-right in the U.S. and Europe, deaths of three people I knew, a family member suffering shingles for the eight time, another family member targeted by anti-Semitic classmates — and my car was rear-ended.
And yet, the flowers in my garden are beginning to bloom, the first Black woman will become a justice on the U.S, Supreme Court, people I know have been kind and caring, reaching out to one another; strangers have helped us in difficult circumstances, and we have all celebrated the accomplishments of our amazing half-marathon walkers. Cakes and treats were baked, stories were shared, and there was laughter. There is always laughter.
Together we will get through April. We will celebrate our holidays and our achievements, and most importantly, we will continue to laugh together at all the world’s absurdities.
Just walking in the rain
Getting soaking wet
All because the walkers in the cemetery met.
Just walking in the rain
Turning slightly blue
All because my clothes are completely soaking through.
People through their car windows
They always stare at me
Shaking their heads in sorrow
Saying: “who can that fool be?”
Just walking in the rain
Thinking how we met
And knowing things could change
I never want to forget, walking in the rain.
With apologies to Dave Burgess.
TPW had an amazing turnout in the pouring rain this Saturday, As the saying goes, there is no bad weather, just bad gear.
There was a surprising number of brave or bonkers people standing in the weak sunshine when I arrived at the cemetery yesterday. Some were rarin’ to go – with or without cleats – to brave the icy path. And some of us thought coffee sounded like a much better choice. After all, broken bones can really ruin a day. But then we ran up against the Abilene Paradox.
What is that? It is a situation where each individual is less than enthused about a group decision, but all go along with it because no one wants to be a spoilsport. Is the risk of falling more important than the risk of being seen as non-cooperative? For the most tragic example of this paradox, see how decisions were made during the 1986 NASA Challenger launch.
However, it does not always end tragically. The brave, bold, and bonkers TPW walkers all set off along the path, some using the now universal sign for black ice: Flapping arms up and down wildly while attempting to stay upright, a warning to those behind.
I am very happy to report that no harm was done. We all finished our walks at different distances, each deciding her or his own tolerance for ice. For some of us, even during a pandemic, coffee with a friendly walker is by far the best group decision in a dangerous time.
After a wonderfully sunny, if a bit icy, walk with 2 TPW friends on Saturday morning, followed by coffee with others, I picked up ice cream to prepare for my family day celebration. My grandkids came for the afternoon Saturday, a sleepover and an all-day visit on Sunday. Their mom and dad came to dinner on Sunday night and we talked with their other grandparents via FaceTime after dinner. What a lovely way to celebrate family!
I’ve come to really appreciate having family geographically close to me over the past two years. I’ve been able to be in their “bubble” which has made all the difference to my happiness during covid.
My grandkids are very comfortable in my house! We get by with very few rules, the number one and pre-eminent rule is to be kind to one another (and to never get water on my wood floors.). Otherwise, pretty much anything goes. It takes a little time to get the house back to rights after they’ve gone: pillows are everywhere after an epic battle, couch cushions are stacked into a fort, and there is playdough in a lot of corners. But they leave with good memories of reading together, talking about what’s happening in their lives, exploring picture albums. And I realize that is the real legacy I will leave them, that they were well loved.
Happy Family Day to you all.
For the shortest month of the year, February has a way of hanging onto every second in a most exhausting way. Some days I decide to forget the cold and ice and pandemic. I lace up my boots and head out, only to discover that the neighbour’s lawn has melted over the sidewalk creating such a stretch of black ice that even the dogs are falling into the road. Nope. I really can do without bananas. I am going back inside to watch the Olympic skeleton competition where people REALLY have no fear of ice.
I hate falling. I never know which bits of me will end up injured and I have too many people expecting me to be there for them to take a foolish risk. I also hate getting sick. I have no patience for it. And did I mention road blockades and anti-vaxxers?
Maybe February is the month to crawl under the bed with the dust bunnies I had meant to vacuum up. But I will bring my seed catalogues in there with me. I will order things that will grow in the warmth and sunshine, knowing I will be back digging in the dirt once this three year long winter is finished.
TPW members are awesome. Many walk regardless of weather. They are out there witnessing the changes of seasons, commenting on what they observe as they move through the city scape.
I read this article in the Fall that talked about Awe walking and thought this is us. We freely share our views with photos and wonderfully crafted remarks.
These observations remind us that Covid anxiety should not stop us from moving forward. We continue to enjoy our favourite pastime of meeting and walking together or separately.
May 2022 be our year to get back to in-person races (if that is your thing), and keep on stepping out exploring new places.
I have included a link to the article that inspired me in seeing how amazing we are!
.Awe Walking: How Cultivating Awe on Your Daily Stroll Can Boost Your Mental Health – Everything Zoomer
As recent news in Ontario suggests that Omicron may possibly be heading to the exit, my thoughts have turned to what I will miss in our post-pandemic lives. Although the number of deaths and amount of illness over the past two years is staggering, there have been small pleasures too, such as learning to appreciate a slower pace of life (crossword puzzles, more time for books), a bluer sky to enjoy thanks to fewer planes in the air, neighbourhood street signs thanking people for “shopping local”, more conversations with strangers on the street, and little acts of kindness (like the man ahead of me at the Starbucks drive-through who paid for my coffee order before driving away anonymously). Included in this list also is the bonding amongst the TPW walkers. We have shown flexibility in how we have kept the group in touch – first through Zoom calls in the early days, and subsequently through walking in various group sizes according to Covid restrictions, and almost always finding a way to connect over coffee, inside or out, afterwards. I hope some of these pleasures will remain in the “new normal” world which will eventually come our way.