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Wetness saturates the air with droplets. Overhanging maples, with run-off teased by breezes, splatter upon my slicker. Around me, shrubs pay homage to the once cracked ground, oozing underfoot and chilling my sandaled-toes.

It is Saturday afternoon by the creek: a confluence of multiple rhythms that compels even deeper listening. I pause in my tracks as my spirit yearns for moisture. I shout into the stillness. Gladness wells and refreshes my cramped psyche: Again, my Inner Writer breathes. Such is the restorative power of walking in the woods.

That evening I happened upon Beethoven’s Symphony # 6 in F Major – The Pastoral (1808). Beset by health and relationship issues most of his life, he often left Vienna and took solitary walks into the country; there, nature’s rhythms nurtured his passion for composing. Such must have occurred with his Sixth Symphony. Unlike others, it contains programmatic notes for the five movements: Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrive in the countryside, Scene by the brook, Merry gathering of country folk, Thunderstorm, and Shepherd’s song and cheerful feelings after the storm. Fortunate for us, Beethoven later wove these rich experiences into this symphony; its melodic lines breathe into the psyches of the listeners. Contentment expands into smiles. All is well.

Like him, we are never the same after such walks.

 

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Tangled, twisted, crusty, long or short, burnished or dull, motley browns, languishing or fried–such are earthworms impaled on sidewalks by July’s heat. Questions arise: why do some earthworms vacate moist soils, their natural environment, following downpours?

Some say it has to do with breathing. The earthworm needs oxygen just as humans; it breathes through special skin, protected by a thin cuticle and kept moist by slimy mucus. This enables it to absorb the oxygen it needs and to expel the carbon dioxide, a process called diffusion. But if rain saturates its environment, the earthworm cannot breathe and escapes to sidewalks. Certain death occurs if the sun dries it up, because the exchange of gases can’t take place.

Others hold that the baked earth also compels the earthworm to flee.

Such stark reminders give me pause during walks around the neighborhood–to be mindful of the gift of life as it evolves, to provide adequate self-care, and to hone my time-management skills lest my spirit wither and die. First things first.

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