Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Another Walk In The Countryside

I've been very lazy over the last few weeks and the scales have been warning me that my weight is heading in the wrong direction.

Yes I know; the solution is very obvious. Get new scales !

If only life was so fair. But it's not and so for my weight and overall health's sake, I started to walk again today. I'd mostly cycled in Florida as walking didn't get me very far, literally, and I was fed up seeing the same rows of neat homes within Buttonwood Bay all the time. On the bike I could at least get out of the park and explore a bit more.

But Florida is a flat state. The flatest in fact. I yearned for countryside and.........hills.

So it was as much to see my local rolling hills as much as for the exercise that I set off for a walk this afternoon. Within a few minutes I was out in farm country - although even here, one is
often reminded that modern man and his motorised vehicle is not far away.

But it was as if I'd got the ultimate remote control as even though I could SEE the traffic, I couldn't hear it at all. It was wonderful.

Taking care not to step in anything nasty, I went deeper into the countryside and totally lost all thoughts of modern life entirely.

I walked around the edges of a few fields, probably trespassing at the same time, through a small forest and found myself in a new place for me.......Lost.

I knew roughly where I was but still impressed myself by looking at the sun and heading south. Sure enough after 20 minutes I came upon the path I'd been on and was soon heading back to my housing estate. Civilization beckoned.

The gravel path became a narrow tarmac road and crossed over the local golf course.

The sign you see here is mostly for car drivers as you'd like to think a walker would hear something before a golf ball hit him on the head.

When I'm not in a rush or trying to keep my heart rate at a set level, I often poke around the trees on both sides for any errant golf balls abandoned by their owners. I find a suprising number actually so either the holes closest to this path are very difficult or, more likely, the local golfers aren't going to put pressure Tiger Woods any time soon.

Speaking of local golfers, a foursome had just putted out on the hole to one side of the road and so had to cross over to tee off on the next one.

It was a chance for me to test out the sports setting on the camera so I extended my monopod (don't even go there) and setup ready for action.

I don't think having a camera wielding spectator pleased the group very much, but if they had any comments, they politely kept them till I was out of range.

I soon realised I needed to consult the camera instruction booklet again as although the shutter blasted off at an impressive rate of 3 frames per second, none of the images captured were worth keeping as they were out of focus. I've still a lot to learn.

By the time the last golfer was ready to drive off, I'd had to return to the normal 'auto' setting just to get any sort of photo at all. The result is the shot above.

After they had left the tee, I turned around for a look at the hole they'd just played and noticed that, due to the low temps all day, the morning frost had never had a chance to burn off.

I opened the little gate and went through to get closer to the green. There was a lone golfer coming up the fairway so I had to take a quick photo and get off the course.

Back on the road I waited for him to get to the green and once he had chipped up a few feet from the hole, he picked up his ball without putting out as I assume the frost would've made putting awkward.

He crossed over the road and prepared to drive off on the next tee. I was tempted to try the sports setting again and set up as if to take some photos. But I decided not to bother and just leaned on the camera atop the monopod......and watched. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I'll say that my close attention put him off as he totally mishit the ball and it shot off about 20 yds to his left and barely left the ground. Oops.

Grinning, I walked on.

As I approached the main road leading back into my housing estate, I came upon this lovely little grouping of snowdrops which, as we all know, despite their name, normally flower in very early Spring.

Hopefully they withstand the next few days as we're due to get a dusting of snow. I say dusting, as we rarely get much more than what would be called a dusting in US states like Michigan and North Dakota - but it still manages to bring the UK to it's collective knees and sends sales of huge red plastic shovels through the roof.

By now any heat that the late afternoon sun was producing had long since gone and I could see my breath.
I'd gone out well prepared, however, and under my jacket I was wearing a fleece over my t-shirt. I was toasty warm and even my gloveless, camera carrying hands were comfortably warm. It was easily the longest walk I'd had since leaving Michigan in late October for the warmth of Florida and I enjoyed it enormously.

If the forecast snow does arrive tomorrow, I'll strap on a pair of old tennis rackets, saddle up the reindeer and head out into it. If no post appears, you'll know the dust got me !

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