Of course, as Darwin so aptly put it, it's the one who adapts that survives. So, I'm adapting in order to survive. Given the restraints of no bending or twisting, this has meant lots of walking. It's not exactly how I had planned to spend the autumn. I may not be able control my destiny, but I can control my response to it !
The truth is that I haven't done much walking since we moved back from New Zealand in 2004. I returned to America with pretty bad osteoarthritis in my knee. At the end of every multi-day backpacking trip in NZ, I would have a massively swollen right knee and severely limited range of motion. A surgeon removed a loose bit of cartilage and carved some more off the back of my kneecap that was close to breaking off on its own. This helped, but I still found myself preferring to cycle rather than hike. I used to joke with co-workers that I biked to work to avoid the long walk in from the parking lot!
But this autumn, I found myself pulling out my poles and hiking shoes just to stay sane. I found at first that I would get tired very quickly, but if I stopped to take photos, I could pace myself better and my walks grew a bit longer thanks to the photo-ops. I also found myself taking more time to really look around and enjoy the beauty of trees stripped of their summer-glory leaves, now back-lit, casting long shadows, from the lovely golden sunbeams fanning out low in the sky at this time of year. While I would like to think that I appreciated the amazing, lacy, neuron-like branches of barren trees before, this year I have really found them positively inspiring. I've shared some of these photos on the blog, but I've filled my camera many times over and most will just clutter my cloud storage until I hit some arbitrary limit and I delete them.
Over the autumn, I built up my strength enough to do some longer hikes. I'm still pretty darn slow, and take even longer since I stop so often to take photos, but all that conditioning was rewarded with a wonderful walk around Howth Head in Ireland in mid December.
We had amazing weather for our pre-Christmas visit with friends and family in Ireland, and the day we traveled out to Howth was perfect. It was amazingly mild for December, and the low light and fluffy clouds made for a wonderful backdrop.
A view of Ireland's Eye
Then the sun popped out long enough to make the eye glow for my camera.
I must say the Irish can be very creative with their signs warning of the dangers of tumbling over the side of cliffs!
The Baily lighthouse
Incidentally, for those who just can't wait for blog updates to see photos from our adventures, check out the_fixie_pixie and fear_rothar on Instagram!