The sounds of man


It’s been a while since the last blog.  Frankly, I just didn’t have much fodder for blogging and my long-standing motto is “better no blog than a bad blog”.

Of course, some of you might take issue with the posts I considered “good” blogs, but dem’s da breaks when you follow a personal blog.  Now, read on…

There has been a spate of injuries among my regular tennis group.  Knees, ankles, shoulders…I expect this is a testimony to the fact we’re all on our second half-century.  The offshoot of this is that the few remaining healthy players are left without a regular game.  Being a member of the (currently) uninjured group, I needed something to at least simulate exercise.  For that, I took up walking.

I chose walking over biking for a specific reason:  the world goes by too fast on a bike.  I understand the exercise quotient is ratcheted up significantly pumping away on the pedals, but I don’t play tennis specifically for the exercise (it’s just a happy benefit), I play for fun.  Thus, biking was out (at least solo and in the city…nature trails or “touring” might be different).

My neighborhood has committed to heavy landscaping and as a byproduct, encouraged bikers and walkers/joggers by building large paths through and around the area.  On a full circle, it’s probably about seven miles (one could expand the circle to my sister area, which might build it up another five or six miles).  I figured this was as good a “beginner” course as any.

Those of you who are walkers or joggers will certainly be aware of the different muscles used in that activity versus, for example, common sporting games.  Footwear (especially good socks!) is critical and for us balding dudes, a hat is also a plus.  I also found “real” shorts to be more advantageous than trainers, since the pocket is ever-so-helpful holding my iPhone so I can listen to tunes while walking.

I have had fun over the last couple weeks of non-tennis time walking this path.  The first couple of walks definitely introduced me to my calves, while increasing the distance walked has made me aware of my glutes.

Lest you think the walks have only provided me with renewed knowledge of muscles, there are some wonderful benefits from the steady, but unhurried pace.  The area landscaping is filled with a large variety of trees, each with their own distinctive style, from the leaves to the way they reach into the sky.  The grassy areas are dotted with wildflowers, from which butterflies dance back and forth, occasionally requiring me to alter my steps as they flitter across my path.  At various points, I cross canals, where small bass pick around the plants and curious turtles poke their heads to check out the strange hairless ape passing by.

Through this all, I have my random tunes playing, sometimes speeding me up and sometimes slowing me down as I unconsciously pace to the music.  In general, I tend to walk midday.  Less traffic and between school arrival/departure usually makes for a reasonably peaceful walk.

My last walk, I started out and must have had the tunes lower than usual, as the external noise of life seemed louder than previous walks.  My earphones do not cover the full ear (but aren’t the original “ear buds” from Apple), so I am used to ambient noise.

For some reason, I resisted the urge to increase the volume as I walked and I listened to the sounds of man.  First, a car would come by, it’s arrival signified by the friction of tire on asphalt.  Perhaps it would be a well maintained car, in which case the noise would increase to a small roar and then fade as it passed from view.  Other times, whether by design or disrepair, the engine would growl and groan as it came through, seeming to leave an echo in the ensuing stillness.

I have to admit, I was quite surprised just how loud cars are; I don’t think we realize it when we’re inside with the radio on or the wind blowing in our ears, but it’s LOUD!

I walked around the area, constantly introduced to new signs of man’s omnipresence.  The whine of hedge cutters, the clatter of roof work, the ringing of school bells as classes changed.  In between there was sweet silence.  Rustling leaves, chirping birds and the random cricket could be heard, all apparently unmoved by the cacophony of humanity.

I couldn’t decide if I was annoyed or amused by the disturbance, but I ultimately decided if the rest of the creatures on Earth had learned to put up with us, I guess I could too.  But it did put me in a mood to type up this blog, which is ironic, in a way.  It took a lot of noise to make me sound off again.

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