Monday, February 22, 2010

A Windy Walk

Contributed by Ernest Jones of Walla Walla, Washington.
Ernest's guide is black Lab Randy.

Ernest Jones and Randy
The wind was howling as if in a great hurry to remove the last leaf from off the trees as my guide and I set out for our morning walk. Though I really don't like walking when it is so windy one can't always wait for the perfect day before he heads out. Thus on this windy day we started down the road to find what new discoveries we might come across.

In case you have never thought of it, hearing is very important to all of us, but all the more when one can no longer depend on eyesight. Since I have relatively good hearing, I can't say how the deaf manage when out walking in adverse weather, but for me I depend on my hearing.

My guide and I walked down our narrow country lane. Not only was it very blustery but it was still dark with the sunrise about one hour away. Yet knowing the wind was to continue most of the day and also knowing the traffic would be much heavier later as those going to school and to work nearly flew down the country road, I wanted to get our walk in early.

The cows in the nearby fields were quiet and even the usual vocal birds, including the pheasants were silent; only a few barking dogs could be heard above the wind. I had to keep up a constant vigil for approaching traffic, especially those coming towards us as sometimes we must walk on the pavement instead of the shoulder of the road.

My guide acted like nothing was different than any other calm morning and was pulling hard, encouraging me to walk faster. We made a left turn onto a narrow dead end lane and walked to the end of the pavement where we paused a moment to listen to a pair of mallards playing in the gurgling stream. This stream flowing several feet below the surface of the land kept the ducks protected from the blowing wind. The early hour was with us and the road was all ours.

As we once again neared the main road I heard the approaching car and immediately grew more attentive. Reaching the intersection we paused to wait for the car to pass before crossing the road.

The section of road I was most concerned about was still ahead of us. This was a place where rain often produced massive puddles that could extend from the road's shoulder into the center of the road. Let me add here that my guide will not, if he can help it, walk through the puddles, so it is likely he will take me into the middle of the road to avoid them. Approaching where I knew puddles often existed I stopped my dog so I could listen as I checked for any nearby traffic. Hearing nothing but the wind we preceded and I gave a sigh of relief when once again I felt the gravel/dirt shoulder under my feet.

This morning I decided to change our route and we were walking in the opposite direction around the loop. At first the wind came from behind me and fairly pushed me along. But when we turned to face towards home the wind buffeted straight into me and I found myself leaning into the wind just to remain on my feet. I was concentrating completely on our safety and on getting home out of this wind and I think my guide was thinking the same when suddenly a couple dogs gave a chorus of barking only a few feet to our left. I jumped and felt my guide also jump and turn to see just where these dogs were. Fortunately they were behind a fence so could not get any closer to us but I will say they got our full attention. You need to try this sometime and enjoy the thrill one feels when he becomes fully awake.

We were also fortunate that morning for we only had to deal with 2 passing cars and both respected us, thus this morning we did not get a cold shower. Try taking a walk when your full attention is on the wind and have a car plow right through one of the many water puddles; if the wind has not awakened you the sudden deluge from the passing car will, but very likely the wind will blow dry you before you reach home.

Get out and enjoy life; have a great day.

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