Walking for Wellness

Posted on January 22, 2021


My number one physical activity is walking. I prefer to walk in the woods, near a river, on the prairie, around a lake, etc, rather than walking in town. As I make my way through the grieving process after the deaths of my sisters, with few exceptions, I’ve been able to convince myself to walk, slowly and miserably, if that’s the way it’s got to be, every day. I prefer starting from home rather than driving somewhere else to walk, but it’s much more enjoyable to get out of the subdivision, get off the pavement, and feel the earth beneath my feet–which requires driving. Since I have to drive, I’ve decided to seek adventure by exploring new parks, preserves, and trails.

Yesterday, my friends invited me to check out the trails at the Leonard Preserve on the River Raisin in Manchester. We met in the morning and filled our eyes with beauty and our spirits with joy as we hiked in sunshine that was so strong, we could feel the heat on our backs, even through all the layers of coats and sweaters.

The sign at the park teaches visitors to the Preserve about the Indigenous history of the trail. I appreciate that.

Here’s the trail map.

When I got home, the temperature had climbed into the forties, and I wished I’d stayed at the Preserve when my friends headed home. As I warmed up a bowl of Lemon Lentil soup and a Pumpkin Muffin, my desire to get back OUT THERE grew. By the time I had eaten, my mind was made up. I had gone north for a morning hike; I would select a park to the south that I’ve never visited before and take a second hike. Seeing the forecast calling for several days with high temps in the twenties cemented my decision. I couldn’t let a warm, sunny afternoon go to waste.

I know that Toledo has a well-developed metro park system that I’ve mostly ignored, because, even though it’s closer than Ann Arbor, it’s “out of state.” I decide to add Toledo’s parks to my adventure list, then I search online for one that sparks my interest. I choose Sylvan Prairie Park, because I love prairies, and I think it will be fun to visit two prairies in two states in one day. Since it’s my second walk of the day, and since I want to dawdle in the sunshine as long as possible, I decide to wander slowly through the park and photograph prairie plants.

Since I arrived only 2 hours before the park closed, I stayed inside the park, but now that I see that the trail connects to a longer, multi-use trail, I plan to return with my bicycle in warm weather and enjoy the longer trail.

Looking at the map of Southeastern Lower Michigan and Northeastern Ohio, I am surprised at just how many undiscovered parks and preserves exist within thirty miles from my home. That’s a lot of adventure ahead.

I’m excited to think of it. I’m grateful for the beauty and joy I find as I walk for wellness, head out for healing.

As I write this post, I’ve already been for a walk on the banks of the River Raisin at a local city park, but it’s not even noon, and I feel a little restless. If the snow keeps falling, I’ll probably head for the woods. There are few things that bring me such pleasure, and walking has so many physical, mental, and emotional benefits, there’s really no downside. During these days of grief and sadness, I might be walking wounded, but also, I’m walking toward wellness. I can feel it. I’ll walk on.

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy
On email: lisagay.eddy1@gmail.com