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I wouldn't be me if I didn't go around changing things up. Lately I've been mostly sharing my responses to the voices of other writers––ones I felt had something important to say from places different from where I stand in the world.


And now I'm changing it up with a series of blog posts called "A Writer's Walk." It could as well be called "The No Pretzels Here Walk." It is my habit to repeatedly set my timer for 30 minutes throughout my writing time. When the Blues ringtone goes off, I get up and walk, usually for around 10 minutes. This is to avoid becoming a human pretzel. But it also jiggles things loose in my brain and heart, often helping when I'm in a stuck spot in the writing. My town of Elk Horn, Iowa, is very small–– population reported at anywhere from 550 to 650. So the number of potential 10-minute walks from my apartment is quite limited. Sometimes, because I walk them so often, I confess to feeling bored and have a hard time choosing a walk, wishing for variety. I use a pedometer, and my goal for the day is 10K steps.
A few days ago, I discovered that one particular circuit gives me 1.5K steps. I thought it would serve several purposes nicely to just do that walk throughout my writing time, eliminating the need to choose during this part of my day. Other, longer walks usually happen later in the day, in order to complete my goal, and can offer more variety. I did wonder if I would become even more jaded if I did the same small walk several times a day, but then I found an answer to that question.
A large part of this pathway is on Elk Horn's Main Street. When I got home, I wrote from memory the various businesses and other structures I would pass, and it struck me how really interesting each one can be––the thoughts they spark, the people I sometimes meet and exchange a few words with, bits of local history, and what it's like for this Southwestern girl to live in small-town Iowa. This new blog series began to take shape.


Herewith, the first installment:

The first thing I see, when I step out of the back door of my apartment building, and taking the back door is essential because it gives me more steps than the front does, is my patio. My neighbor across the hall––we've taken to calling ourselves the Westsiders––is a consummate flower gardener, and I felt considerable peer pressure when I moved into this senior apartment to make an effort, knowing I would never produce anything like Barb's magnificent showing. I have neither the time nor the expertise nor, quite frankly, the interest that she has.
This year I went for color on my patio (I also have a flower bed, which is sorrowfully languishing at this point in the summer). I've already, as fall seems to be coming early this year, emptied some of the containers on the pavement. The coleuses are gone, a couple of cuttings from them having been started indoors. One geranium (I don't seem to be very successful with geraniums, and I'll speculate as to why shortly) is still producing lovely hot pink blossoms, and the oh-so-faithful marigolds are giving their all. The snapdragons, petunias, and zinnias are doing their best but faltering. Soon I'll be closing down the patio and the flowerbed, because I will be gone from mid-September to mid-October, and if I let them go to pot, so to speak, I would be letting down the Westsiders.
I have learned in the last two summers, that I need to be very thoughtful about the species of flowers I choose and also the placement of my patio collection. We are the Westsiders because our two of the four apartments in our building are on––you guessed it, of course––the west side. You would think that would result in plenty of light, but the building blocks the morning sun on into early afternoon, even in August. Then the hill and tall trees in the west block it further as the sun is retreating. This, I believe has been the problem with the geraniums, as I never had this trouble in New Mexico. I am learning and will never likely be a consummate flower gardener. Thank goodness for nature.
Stay tuned for more on this writer's daily walk. I'd love to hear about some of your walks. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised when the occasional book review or other reflection pops up.

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