Sunny, 58 Degrees, Calm Winds.
How can I express how beautiful it is in the woods this morning? Each day seems more beautiful than the last. It’s cool and shady, with the sun filtering through the trees, lighting patches of leaves here and there. It’s quiet, save for the calling of birds. Even the birds seem at peace. Thinking about it, they are probably on their nests now, and no longer concerning themselves with mates and territory.
As Jamie and I stroll down the trail, we are surrounded by encroaching brush, which is turning bright green with fresh leaves. The grass is already a foot tall, and damp with dew. The woods ahead are keeping the sun off of me, so it’s completely comfortable. Though only 58 degrees, I’m dressed only in a short sleeved shirt. Come Fall, 58 degrees will feel cold.
I take my time, stopping at various places where overhanging branches and back-lit leaves make tempting compositions. I even photograph some of the treetops. I know they won’t make compelling photographs, but their fresh leaves in the sunshine are just too pretty to pass up.
Working my way down to the Southern Overlook, I stop to take a few shots of the back-lit trees. The leaves glow like diamonds against the dark branches. Though it’s only 7:30 in the morning, the sun is high in the sky and I’m already perspiring a bit from the exercise of walking down here.
I’m hardly exercising vigorously, as I’m walking slowly, and stopping frequently to take pictures. My back is tender this morning after Physical Therapy yesterday and I’m taking it easier even than I might ordinarily on such a pretty morning.
Jamie would prefer I move more quickly, I’m sure. He wanders around, exploring on his own when I stop to take pictures, but when I start moving on, he stands in front of me, staring at me until I reach him. When I nod my head and say “Okay!” he wheels around and trots up the trail with a spring in his step. The way he looks at me is so funny, his eyes locked on mind until I give the word.
Up at the Northern Overlook, the woods continue to fill in and the feel of the scene is getting nicer, losing the harsh, bare quality that it’s had for months now. I really look forward to comparing this shot with those taken in winter and early spring.
I’ve already noticed how much farther South the sun is in winter, and how much lower in the sky at the same time. We’re still more than a month from the Summer Solstice, and the days are already very long. Sunrise is probably around 6:00 or 6:15. Sunset, somewhere around 8:30. It’s not dark til well after nine.
Heading back up into the woods, they too are filling quickly. The canopy is closing in, and the woods are now predominantly green, rather than gray and brown. I’ve always liked this part of our walk. It’s a high canopy with a really pleasant sense of shelter.
Heading up to the upper level, I notice some of the Lily of the Valley are blooming along the trail. I photograph them, then continue up to the top level. I stroll from here back toward the car. This section of trail is quite hilly, and I’m breathing a little bit and sweating a bit more. It feels much warmer, with the sun up high, but I’m completely shaded by the trees above.
On the last trail before we leave the woods, there are a few wildflowers blooming already. I never noticed these little flowers before I started this project. Now, they are a pleasant find. I was thinking this morning that there would be little new for me to shoot this morning, and yet I’ve had a very nice time, shooting more or less continuously around the entire trail.
These may not be masterpieces of photography, but they’re pretty shots that document the change of seasons for me. That’s okay with me.
I take a last shot of the beautiful Crab Apple tree that overhangs the exit trail, then load my gear in the car, tell Jamie to jump up into the back, and head home. He’s getting a little hesitant about these jumps. He can still do it, but I’ve noticed a certain clumsiness at home when he jumps up on the bed (yes, he gets up on the bed).
The rule is that he sleeps on the floor on his big bed. He’s allowed up in the morning. Usually he doesn’t come up until dawn or so. A couple of nights recently, he hasn’t gotten up at all. He’s not getting any younger.
The Pain Report
I’ll just touch on my back here, because I want a record of it. Yesterday, I had physical therapy again. He ran me through all my exercises and asked about my progress (good). Then he slightly increased the intensity of the exercise, and had me run through one repetition of it. It caused no distress, and I walked comfortably afterward.
When I got home, I had a haircut appointment in an hour, so I walked there, a distance of less than half a mile. It did not feel good. On the way home, my left leg was aching quite a bit. I guess the continuous walking and the hard surface, perhaps even the PT appointment, made the walk too much. I guess I’m not ready for walking to the woods yet. It’s a comparable distance, much of it on pavement.
After dinner, I did one set of my exercises, and another before bed. I didn’t feel any discomfort, but I was awakened at around 2:00 with pain in my lower back. That’s the earliest in quite a while. I went out to do my exercises in the living room, but I could feel that the new exercises would be too intense. I went back to what I was doing before. It hurt, but it hurt less on the third repetition than on the first, and I was able to go back to sleep.
These “exercises” are simple, gentle arching of my back while lying on the floor. This compresses the disc back in the desired direction, and it usually leaves me feeling better than when I began. That was the case here, but it hurt much more than it usually does. In fact, it hasn’t hurt at all recently, until last night.
My back was still very tender in the morning. I did three more repetitions of my exercises, skipped my usual shower, and made breakfast quickly and with significant pain. Then I was off for my walk. The walk always seems to help, but I walked very carefully this morning, feeling very vulnerable.
So there it is, the pain report. Each afternoon and evening, I feel pretty comfortable and get a little optimistic, but each morning I am reminded that this is a significant injury that’s not going to resolve itself overnight. In fact, there’s no guarantee that it will resolve itself at all with only PT.
Next week, we’re supposed to start some core strengthening exercises, but my therapist wanted to allow my back to “settle down” a bit more before beginning.