Last Loop

This morning, for what will almost certainly be the last time, I took my morning walk around the Yantis Loop walking path.

IMG_4250For many years now — I’m not sure exactly how long, really — I’ve started my day with this walk.  I’ve taken it virtually every morning we’ve been home, rain or shine, save only days when we’ve been blitzed by freezing rain or I was laid up after foot surgery.  I’ve walked it with Dusty, Penny, and Kasey, or accompanied only by my trusty iPod, in darkness and in the golden rays of dawn depending on the season and the vagaries of Daylight Savings Time.

And every day, the path is precisely the same — something that Kish finds very amusing.  It’s left out of our house, left on Alpath Road, right on Ogden Woods Boulevard, and then right — always right — on the Yantis Loop itself, so that the familiar white fence is ever on my left.  Then, past the top of the Loop, over the boardwalk around the pond at number 5 North and following the curves of the Loop as it heads back due north, then veering from the Loop to head up Route 62 to join up with Alpath once again.  All told, it’s about a two-mile circuit.

The sameness of this early morning journey is part of its enormous appeal.  My feet know where to go, the walk clears my sleep-addled brain, and the quiet and peaceful surroundings of the stroll make for ideal thinking time.  I get a little exercise out of it, too.

I’m looking forward to our move to German Village, but my walk on the Yantis Loop is one of the things I’ll really miss about New Albany, so this morning’s final effort was a wistful experience.  I’m going to try to replicate the Loop — somewhat — by regularly walking to work from our new place, but moving through the streets of downtown Columbus can’t really fully substitute for the familiar, bucolic path along the white fence.

Bicycle Hit Man

On this morning’s walk I came within a whisker of being struck by a bicycle.

It happened on one of the darkest parts of the leisure path, where there are no street lights.  The cyclist didn’t have a headlight.  I could see him because there was a dim red light on the back of his bike, but he apparently didn’t see me.  I moved to the right edge of the path, but he kept veering inexorably over in my direction.  I’m guessing he was fiddling with his gear or water bottle and wasn’t paying attention; I’m fairly confident no one has put out a bicycle hit on me.  Finally, I trotted off the leisure path to get out of his way, and the sudden movement got his attention. He said “Sorry!” as he righted his bike and went whizzing past, and I emerged from the encounter unscathed, with only an adrenalin surge to remember him by.

There’s always been an uneasy truce between cyclists and walkers on leisure paths and sidewalks. Bicycles move much faster than pedestrians, of course, and it’s unnerving to hear cyclists shout “On your left!” from behind you before they go flying by.  When I see cyclists weaving though the people on the path, I’m tempted to think that the path should be reserved for walkers and joggers.  Then I remember that I ride my bicycle on the path, too, because it’s a great ride — a smooth path, unhindered by stop signs or cars that drive too close, with a cool tunnel, little hills to get the blood pumping, and long coasting runs.  It’s perfect for cycling, just as it’s perfect for a brisk, head-clearing morning walk.

There’s no reason why cyclists, pedestrians, and joggers can’t share the leisure path, day or night or early morning.  But the cyclists need to really pay attention, especially when it’s dark outside.  Having a light on the front of the bicycle would help, too.

Taking Down Trees

IMG_6222Lately they’ve been taking down trees along the Yantis Loop and Route 62.  It’s a sad occasion for the walkers, cyclists, and joggers who use the path.

For the most part, the now-missing trees weren’t the kind of beautiful, spreading trees about which Joyce Kilmer might wax rhapsodic.  Instead, many were what Kish would call “field trees” — the kind of scrawny trees that farmers might use to visibly mark the boundaries between one field and another.  Still, they provided some shade, protection from the elements, screening from the roadway and the noise of passing cars, and the sense that you were walking through a rustling tunnel of green leafiness.

Now they are gone, and there are just sorry, straw-covered spots on the ground where the trees once stood.  As I said, it’s a sad occasion.

Sherlock Holmes And The Bag Of Dog Poop

Recently, when we’ve taken our morning walks around the Yantis Loop, Penny, Kasey, and I have often found unwelcome surprises at various places along the fence line.  They are bags of dog poop, carefully tied off yet left on the top of the fence posts.  I pick them up, carry them to the next disposal container, and toss them in.  And I always wonder:  who in the heck would do such a thing?

In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes explained, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  What can we deduce from the poop bags?  First, we know the culprit has a dog and is sufficiently mobile to make it to various places along the Yantis Loop track; cat lovers, the physically infirm, and agoraphobes therefore need not apply.  Second, we know that the perpetrator has to be tall enough to reach the top of the three-foot-high fence posts and have the eye-hand coordination to tie off a bag of poop, which eliminates infants, toddlers, and the pooping dogs themselves.  Third, the miscreant can’t be a total jerk; if they were a complete reprobate they wouldn’t bag the poop in the first place.  Ergo, they must have some sense of social obligation.  Finally, the poop bags are small, suggesting that the dog is a tiny, yapper dog, the kind that most men despise.

From these clues, I deduce that the wrongdoer is a repressed husband who walks his wife’s appalling pocketbook pooch at her request, bags the poop while growing increasingly annoyed at the shrill barks, and then leaves the bagged poop on the fence as a last rebellious gesture before heading home to endure the tattered remains of his miserable, pathetic life.  It’s either that, or a wealthy but absent-minded New Albany philanthropist who leaves the bags to identify citizens who care enough about their community to dispose of bags of a strange dog’s poop, but then forgets to reward those decent, responsible, civic-minded folks.

What say you, Watson?