Sunrises: Why I Walk Mornings

I walk every morning. Four miles round‐trip. For seven‐plus years.

Through dog days, sprinkling dawns, and all the in‐betweens, I trod the sidewalks that jut east and west from our house.

Shimmering heat cooks sun, pond, and walker, too.
Peek‐a‐boo sun rises to an oddly sweet blinding light.

What began as a long‐ago journey to wellness evolved this past week into a higher calling.

Sunrise walks = healing sights, despite 80+ degree temps.

A trio of sunrises explains.

The last image there shocked, then stopped, me into awe. Absolute silence.

In 2555 days of walks (yes, I counted), I’ve n.e.v.e.r. stopped for Mother Nature. These aren’t pleasure trips I’m taking.

Leaving the house and race‐walking down the driveway, my eyes aim down at concrete and my feet speed to pounding. I’m a woman on a four‐mile mission that continued good health demands.

At least I was. Spying this profoundly beautiful sight, I nearly dropped to my knees. Instead, a verbal wave of thankyouthankyouthankyou rolled off my tongue as I stood in grateful silence, eyes tear‐filled.

In succeeding mornings, other visitors stepped forward.

Double dose of orange delight!

Seeds planted by DH bloomed for the first time. Last week. With my favorite color.

Previous years, we started with flowering plants: easier, faster. Something about retirement encourages new ventures.

Two blooms here, too. Can you find them both?

This second set of blooms burst forth two days later.

The pair of colors grabbed my attention. How did that happen from a single sack of seeds?

Upon seeing the blooms, I ran to our backyard garden. It’s filled with DH’s beloved rose bushes. A dozen of them.

I saw not blooms but this. And gasped.

Can you see why?

The glistening spider’s web spoke of little things making their way in the world, too. Then I asked: when’s the last time I saw such a perfect web? And why today?

The real synchronicity of all this comes after learning that an article I wrote about my walking and writing practice will be published this fall. In a national magazine. Oh my. This news arriving when it did reinforced the near‐holiness of all this timing.

Amid the thrill is the bigger message: sometimes, noticing leads to wonderful surprises.

It starts here: Open your Eyes.

See.

Notice.

When Sex & Allergies Collide

When the Yankees take on your pollen count, you know the joke’s on you.

Houston’s pollen count — 2536 spores for oak trees alone — led the nation last week.

That translates into more sneezers and wheezers in the Bayou City than anywhere else in America.

Nowadays on my daily walks, I see sights like this pile of oak tree pollen on every sidewalk and driveway. Emphasis on every sidewalk, every driveway. For four miles.

These piles congregate to pollinate. In other words, it’s plant sex.

Holy moly, are they promiscuous!

The yellow wormy, stringy things are called catkins, also known as the flowering male of the tree. They morph into pollen then ride the wind, hunting receptors known as stigmas and pistils (the flowering female of the tree).

When male pollen grains meet female flower stigmas, voila! Acorns (as in: nuts!) sometime result.

That Mother Nature recreates this act every spring amazes, in and of itself. But that She, concurrently, creates allergic misery for so many of us humans strikes me as the epitome of irony.

Who’s in charge, you say?

Copyright, Sig McKenna Izbrand

My San Antonio friend Sig McKenna Izbrand dubs this year’s agony “Pollengedden.”

One photo from her backyard illustrates why.

Would you want to swim in those inviting waters after seeing that line of pollen?

The line resembles a crossing‐of‐the‐Rubicon of sorts: what’s in the water, what can I not see?

What’s a RoadBroad to do?

Pack eyedrops, an extra wad of tissues plus sore throat drops then hit the sidewalk.

Sagging senior thighs outrank four miles of sniffles.

Call Me Silver‐Haired Devil?

From the road, Buc-ee’s beckoned.

Rather, my gas tank and bladder issued a joint siren call. One empty, one full, and both talking for 48 long miles.

Why did I wait so long—nearly an hour—to answer?

There’s gas stations and there’s Buc-ee’s. The Madisonville, TX store promises the most‐est in unique memories for any road traveler.

Dozens of gas pumps and restrooms.

Hundreds of drink and food offerings. Few of them good for you.

Thousands of worthless trinkets from clothes, rockers, backpacks, and the unrecognizable.

The line of cars to enter the two parking lots offered first warning.

An unruly crowd paced the parking lot I entered. Women holding children’s hands. Single men holding up their own hands, stopping traffic. TLC and Privilege butting heads with cars, both snaking around and between anything that moved. Which was everything.

What else is Buc-ee’s but a joint that moves, like a Friday night dance floor on the second round of drinks.

Inside the store, agitation spiked. Lines wiggled and squiggled as young, middle‐aged, and old jockeyed for quicker access to the need du jour. The longest lines surrounded stations for drinks, sandwiches, and candy.

Understandable. Road trips extort stomach energy and activate head nerves.

Both sets of bathrooms bore growing lines. Have you ever seen a man forced to wait to do his business? It was the antsiest column in the building. I smiled.

After years of traveling Interstate 45, I’d never seen this degree of traveler mania. Questions flooded in.

What’s wrong? Why this edgy‐nervous‐tense mood? Who lost a football game? 

That last question was valid—Texas A&M isn’t far from Madisonville. Then I remembered: Spring Break. Last weekend.

Alone in my car, I whooped, “Why, of course! How could I forget?”

Then I looked away, upward, to my rearview mirror.

I spied It.

My first gray hair. Actually, gray hairs. Plural.

What color are they? White? Gray? Silver?

Amid the splash of red and brown that threads across my crown, when did bleach join the party?

The longest white strand looks at least six inches long. That’s an easy six to nine months of hair growth. How did I not notice this earlier? Psychic blindness?

To my naked eye, these invaders loom larger than Antarctica. Soon enough, they won’t loom. They’ll rule.

Is this Mother Nature’s belated 62nd birthday present(s)?

I feel rode hard.

Make that road hard.