Office work will kill you. All that sitting, your blood turning to sludge.
Cheryl and I try to fight back. We take evening walks.
Our preferred trek is up Partrick Road to the “temporary” bridge that the county installed three years ago after the earthquake. It’s two miles round trip, with some huffing and puffing uphill.
We walk amid nature — wooded and grassy hillsides, a twisty creek, a smattering of houses. It’s relaxing, but never boring.
There have been “bat attacks.” Once Cheryl ran for dear life while I placidly let the creature part my hair. Cheryl tells this story often.
There is a tragic side to wildlife viewing on a public road. I speak of roadkill.
In the past two weeks we’ve happened upon a flattened snake, a messed up squirrel, tail still waving in the breeze, and a possum just minutes after it met up with a motor vehicle.
We sometimes debate. Should we move these carcasses off the roadway as a gesture of respect? More commonly, we avert our eyes and move on.
There is a public service aspect to our walks. I occasionally pick up trash if it isn’t too gooey. Cheryl is my spotter.
We’re always on the lookout for wild mushrooms and tree fungus. Growths that are lovely but possibly lethal. We stare hard but don’t touch.
Poison oak lurks everywhere, threatening to infect the nonchalant walker. I don’t understand why so much toxicity just off the beaten path. Personally, I wouldn’t design nature that way.
More pleasing botanicals come and go. There’s Queen Anne’s lace and lovely trillium, wild grape vines that mimic kudzu and of course thistle — lovely, horrifying, don’t-dare-touch thistle.
When you’re looking for novelty, spotting wildlife is as good as it gets. Several times a year we see rafters of wild turkeys (Who makes up these collective nouns anyway?) gobbling in the understory.
Deer used to be common, but apparently they’ve moved into town. On one memorable walk we spotted a mountain lion at a distance, its head and pointy ears protruding above a wave of brown grass. We froze, we eyed each other, then we scurried home.
Domesticated animals can pop up. Goats appeared four or so years ago, then disappeared, leaving behind a sign: “Napa Goats” and a phone number.
Cattle occasionally share the same acreage, crashing about like inebriated giants. We don’t know where they come from or where they go.
A few years ago a man built a corral and installed two horses. As we walk by, they sometimes trot over looking for love, or is it food? Cheryl scritches their heads as if they were house cats.
The absolutely best animal spottings — the ones that cause one of us to practically swoon — are the rabbits. Most are jackrabbits but some are actually “bunnies.” How we love the bunnies.
Coveys of quail and woodpeckers hammering away on telephone poles stop us in our tracks. These woodpeckers really go at it. How do they keep from sloshing their brains?
You might think the forest is a static thing. This is not the case.
Trees come crashing down with stunning frequency. Once we walked up to the bridge on a clear roadway. When we returned 15 minutes later, a big oak blocked our path.
This incident has haunted Cheryl ever since: That could have been us!
While our walks have their pleasures, they also have moments of terrors. I speak of the cars and trucks for whom the road was built.
When we hear them barreling our way, we huddle as close to the road edge as possible — without touching poison oak or falling into the creek — and there we freeze, like deer.
We don’t want to become road kill.