Yesterday was a great day. I discovered that my library lets you “read” six audible books a month for FREE! This means my audio book experience does not need to be confined to just my commute anymore. I can get my audio on at work, at the gym, on a walk…it’s amazing. Apparently, this has been a thing for many years, but I just found out about it now. I would rate my enthusiasm at this discovery at a 10/10. All I had to do was download this thing called Hoopla and voila, I’m listening to a book!
I decided to start my Hoopla journey by reading a book called “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.” It’s about a 67-year-old woman who decided to walk the Appalachian Trail without any special training or gear. Actually, she gave birth to 11 children, worked on a farm her whole life and was the victim of repeated domestic violence and survived it all, so she was probably more physically and mentally prepared for the walk than most people are. She finished all 2,000+ miles of the trail and then did it two more times. Very inspiring. Maybe I can make it a goal to section hike the Appalachian Trail over the course of my life.
I recently did a bit of walking of my own. Every once in a while I like to go on a long solo hike in the hopes that some sort of life altering epiphany will come to be and I’ll suddenly know what I’m doing with my life. It never happens, but I do always feel better afterwards because it’s nice to be in nature and feel connected to a world removed from traffic jams, strip malls and people. I did a long loop at Sky Meadows Park out in Virginia horse/wine country. This is one of my favorite parks because you get a lot of bang for your buck: Great views of the Blue Ridge, ponds and bucolic farms, high meadows dotted with wildflowers, dark forests with lichen-strewn rocks, a small, mossy stream and even a bunch of historic sites at the beginning of the hike.
But it turns out there was something I didn’t know about this park: It’s right next to a cattle farm. I started my walk around 7:30 in the morning, and it turns out this is exactly the time when all the cows are out, grazing and pooping up a storm…dozens of and dozens of big, smelly, mooing, pooping cows everywhere. Instead of admiring the subtle beauty of Virginia horse country, I found myself walking through a cow dung minefield, not at all how I imagined an idylllic walk in the woods. The cows were also pretty put off my presence and would start mooing aggressively whenever I came near. Even though cows aren’t known to be killer animals, I have to admit there’s something a little bit disconcerting about being stared down by a 1,000 pound creature.
Alfie (my dog) was terrified of the cows and refused to walk so I had to carry him every time there was a cow in our path, which kind of sucked because he has a little bit of weight problem (we’re both working on it). When we finally passed the last of the killer cows I discovered that although Alfie is terrified of cows, he is not terrified of rolling around in giant mounds of cow poop. He thought covering himself in a nice, thick layer of cow dung was a good way to spend a Sunday. I think rolling around in poop is one of Alfie’s favorite pastimes at this park.