COLUMNISTS

Walking in the country

Susan Manzke
Sunny walking on road shoulder before the end of February melt.

I do enjoy walking down my farm lane and the road that runs in front of my house. For quite some time walking the lane has been out of the question. First came harvest. I stayed away from the lane as machinery was rolling up and down the fields and the lane.

Next came a different season, that being fall hunting season. I even avoided walking on the road during gun season. It’s better to be safe.

For most of January, I was able to take Sunny for a daily walk. Eventually, frigid temps and snow kept me inside. During those below zero days, I walked on my treadmill. Inside walking is boring, even when I have the television on.

When warmer temperatures arrived in late February, the ice coating on Miller Road finally melted. At last, Sunny and I could safely walk again. There was enough of the shoulder showing so we could step off the blacktop when a vehicle approached.

I continued to dress in layers. Wind became my other walking companion. Even though the temperature rose into the forties, the wind chilled me. Others who saw me walking probably thought my scarf and facemask was a bit much, but with those additions to my wardrobe, I could cope and not feel chilled.

My pace is a lot faster on the treadmill. Walking on that machine gives me places to hold and keep my balance. Outside, there’s always a chance I could trip so I take it easy. Also, Sunny is showing his age—he’s eleven. Some days he bounces along beside me like a young dog. Other times he walks with a little limp. Then he’ll sit down, refusing to go forward. At that point, we turn around and head home.

Besides dressing for the weather, I also fill my pockets with necessities, like doggie treats. Sunny gets a treat when a car drives by us. This brings him to my side and keeps him off the road.

One day, Sunny stopped to investigate an animal track. He put his whole nose into the hole in the snow. Of course, he wanted to follow the deer’s trail. I was a bit slow snugging his leash tight. He leaped into the ditch, not realizing the snow was deep.

Sunny senses some critter under the snow.

Sunny looked back at me as he floundered in the snow. If dogs could talk I’m sure he was saying, “What the heck?!”

After a couple of bounding leaps, Sunny was out of the ditch. Too bad he was on the field side and not next to me on the road. We took a parallel path until we reached the lane and he could safely join me on the road. Good thing his extendable leash stretched that far.

The other thing I put in my pocket is a plastic bag, recycled from a grocery store visit.

This bag is used more as the snow melts. Early spring is when thrown trash shows up.

On our last walk, I picked up two empty beer cans, two plastic water bottles, and a couple of other pieces of garbage. These went into my bag. I brought the found trash home to dispose of it properly.

It really ticks me off that there are people out there who don’t think twice about throwing their garbage out their vehicle window. Would it hurt them so much to bring their empties home and dispose of them properly? Of course, the empty beer cans may be a problem if they are pulled over, but those shouldn’t be in the car in the first place.

Trash picked up from one walk.

One disgusting find was a pair of men’s underpants! I used the plastic bag as a glove so I could pick it up without touching it—this garbage find still makes me cringe.

Let’s all remember to clean up after ourselves. Even a two-year-old knows this.

Walking a country road should be enjoyable for all.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.