Tag Archives: December

In Praise of Winter Walks

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.
“Roads Go Ever On” by J.R.R. Tolkien.

In contrast to earlier the season—when we were blasted with cold in late November, December in Iowa has gifted us with some mild days. And by bike and foot, I have taken some advantage of that.

Monday, I was tied up much of the day with finishing semester grades. At least I did bicycle to campus. But on Tuesday, after some errands, my wife and I took a late afternoon stroll. We only walked maybe a total of two miles or so, but it was a pleasant (by December standards) sunset journey.


Sun setting along C Avenue in Cedar Rapids on Dec. 18, 2018. During a stroll with my wife as we celebrate being married 36 years. It was warm Dec. 18 36 years ago, too.

On Wednesday, I biked to campus to finish some additional odds and ends, and then met my wife and youngest son. We drove down to the NewBo area for lunch at Parlor City, and then went for a stroll along a part of the Cedar River Trail, including the new Sinclair Levee path.


Dec. 19, 2018, view during stroll along Sinclair Levee trail.

It was breezy, and sunshine was starting to turn to clouds, but again, with a temperature around 40 or so, quite nice for December. We happily chatted as we strolled, enjoying the companionship, the outdoors and the effort of the walk.

John Green created a recent Vlogbrothers video which was a walk through some Indiana woods in cold, wet weather with some friends. I’m not sure I completely agree with his point that the bad weather helped make it a good walk—I’m more of a fair-weather journeyer—although otherwise I think he’s on to something. We are all on a life journey, and sharing that journey with friends as we make our way is partly what it’s about.

And it is important to just get out there, when you can, whether in Indiana rain or Iowa sunshine. A walk outside is a way of enjoying the world beyond our artificial shelters, when conditions allow. We re creatures of this Earth and should feel our connection with it, now and then. Which is one thing a winter walk is good for.


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Lunch At the Pear Tree Café

Hey, Pinky, who are you calling a tree rat? And where are my bagels?

Hey, Pinky, who are you calling a tree rat? And where are my bagels?

In the movie “Up,” the dog Dug gets distracted easily by tree rodents.

I must not be too different. Around noon today, while talking via Skype with my son in Paraguay, I was also watching the lunch crowd at the nearby Pear Tree Café.

Pears! Nom-nom-nom-nom.

Pears! Nom-nom-nom-nom.

The small pears on these trees must be delicious, considering the lengths our heavy neighborhood squirrel goes to. The squirrel is heavy, by the way, partly due to ill-advised offerings sometimes cast onto our deck by wayward family members. This week, my youngest son found some bagels that were too old for human consumption, and pitched them out the back door. There they sat, partly covered by snow, until the snow started to melt. Moldy old bread, apparently, is best served chilled and slightly soggy—or that’s the way this pear-devouring tree rat prefers them anyway.


Some birds, including this cardinal, also were in the lunch crowd. Smaller birds were too flighty to be photographed, but the cardinal was almost as indifferent as the squirrel.

Anyway, I have way too much to do today. But I loved the photos, so I posted a set on Flickr. The squirrel was joined by a pair of cardinals, but Mrs. Cardinal was too shy to be photographed. Garish Mr. Cardinal was another story. Anyway, there were a few other birds, too, but they were too quick for the distracted, Skyping paparazzi to photograph.


Pears and leaves at noon. Maybe the pear trees keep their leaves because they want to encourage lunch customers and the leaf cover makes birds and squirrels more likely to eat the fruit? It’s a theory. Pear trees seem to retain leaves much longer than other trees.


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