I’ve been riding my bike into work recently, but today, which promises thundershowers after work, I decided to hoof it. My lovely wife will drive me home after the gym if the forecast holds true.
I had almost forgotten how delightful it is to walk. Indeed, a couple of blocks into my trek, I realized that I’d almost forgotten how to walk. My gait was uneven and I actually felt a bit off-balance as I navigated the sidewalk and curbs on my way to the park. I was trying to slow down and enjoy the sights and sounds of the morning, but it seemed like my legs wanted to move at a faster pace than my eyes and ears.
Anyway, by the time I crossed Hiawatha Avenue and entered the park, I had settled into a pleasing rhythm. The falls loomed near, and I was curious to see how high the creek would be after all the rain of recent days.
Normally, I can hear the falls by the time I enter the park — maybe 50 yards away — but today the rushing water was drowned out by some ear-splitting mechanical noise coming from somewhere beyond the creek. So, my moment of quiet contemplation at the falls (at the spot where President Lyndon Johnson stood in 1964; his shoe prints are in the cement — really) became more of a micro-moment.
Until I realized that my calves were tightening up.
This is the thing that always kills me when I try to run (well, that and my recalcitrant left knee), and I try to remedy it by stretching it out. So, there I am: standing in LBJ’s footprints overlooking majestic Minnehaha Falls, 100 decibels of industrial noise destroying my already poor hearing, leaning into the rock wall to stretch my calves.
I’m never sure how to stretch most parts of my aging body, but I generally am able to loosen my calf muscles with very little effort. Apparently, they get tight because of micro-tears in the muscle, which inhibits blood flow.
Anyway, they feel fine by the time I leave LBJ’s little square of concrete, though my ears are still ringing from whatever machine was making all that racket. Don’t these people have any respect for the urban wilderness experience???
(Wilderness addendum: I saw two caterpillars on the asphalt path in the park and a Cooper’s Hawk soaring over the river, a perfect blend of the pedestrian and the glorious.)