Almost daily we are admonished to exercise. We are reminded that exercise is good for our health and our well being. More often than not, we are encouraged to exercise by taking regular walks. And, as we get older, the stronger the admonishment becomes: Exercise! Walk!
But just walking can be boring. There should be a challenge or some other activity to accompany the walking. Something to take the mind off the repetitious plodding of one foot in front of the other. Something more fun than trodding on a revolving belt that takes you nowhere and provides no visual or mental stimulation.
Yes, there is that running, or more precisely, jogging, as an alternative. Observing joggers, one often notes pained facial expressions or looks of disdain toward those who merely walk. Closer observations of their jogging style indicates many of these runners will be those receiving knee or hip replacements in their later years. Maybe that’s the cause of the grimaces they wear.
Walking outdoors coupled with observations of the surrounding environment can be one key to distracting the brain from the monotony of step, step, step. For instance, early morning walks can be highlighted with the ever-changing skies of sunrise. Conversely, walking in the late evening will provide the chance of a stunning sunset. Birds, rabbits, and of course, people watching, are other fine distractions, as is an MP3 player.
A favorite walking pastime of mine is the observation of what appears to be the practice of “sidewalk watering.” Although there seems to be no obvious benefit of sidewalk watering, there are a number of businesses and private residences that practice this daily ritual. At just about daybreak, the sprinkler heads rise up out of the ground and begin the spraying of water.
The weather service may have reported record rains the day before, yet at the appointed time, the sprinklers are on. Grass and shrubs oftentimes deflect some of the spray, but the sidewalks do tend to get most of the water.
Much of the time the asphalt of the adjacent streets and parking areas also get watered. Being unfamiliar with the art of concrete and asphalt maintenance, I am not sure what long- term benefits are gained from this practice.
I have noticed that the coming of colder weather has greatly diminished the practice, yet I feel confident that the waters will flow again come springtime.
One observed side effect of this errant sidewalk/grass watering appears to be a proliferation of lawn maintenance businesses. (Although, the signs on their vehicles indicate they prefer being called landscapers.)
The land was probably “scaped” or perhaps more accurately, scraped, when the buildings were erected. Perhaps the scattering of grass seeds and mulch constitute landscaping, after all they do slightly alter the contour of the ground surface when they attempt to grade everything flat to accommodate mowing apparatus.
These purveyors of grass-cutting services always appear to be in a hurry. Maybe because they have other businesses to clip, err, trim. Consequently, they have discovered the most expeditious means of dealing with the grass residue is to blow it into the street, or more precisely, into the gutter.
One might gather that filling street gutters with garbage is considered littering. Yet no citations are issued for grass clippings. Apparently, city, county and state ordinances exempt grass refuse from being deemed garbage or litter. Evidently, the people in political power or law enforcement find no offense, or issue with grass and leaves littering the streets. After all, once it rains, this litter will be washed away. Washed into storm drains to mix with all the other detritus material, eventually adding to the silting of our local streams, rivers and lakes.
The storm drains do not always accommodate the flushing of the gutters. Many times, the storm grate becomes clogged with clippings and trash, thus preventing the water from draining away. Instead, it fills the street.
Given sufficient traffic, the water gets splashed up onto the grass and shrubbery — therefore completing the watering process.
One other interesting observation, made while walking in the Med-Tech Corridor is that a large number of those patients driving away from the plethora of medical offices are either talking on their cell phones or lighting up a cigarette. None seem to notice the freshly watered sidewalks.
Blair White of Johnson City has spent his professional career in the arts.