A couple weeks ago, I pulled the plug on running. I’ve been nursing hamstring and hip injuries for the last couple of years, and figured the smart move would be to stop running and to walk instead. So last week I resumed my daily morning walks.
Before getting back into running a few years ago, I used to walk every morning. First it was to walk my son to preschool, and I loved sharing that time with him: walking slowly, talking to neighborhood cats, picking up tiny sticks and stones and plants to collect. When he got older and went to elementary school, I’d walk after dropping him off.
I’d look at the patterns of tree branches, and the colors of leaves and the shapes and colors of shadows on the grass.
After a week of returning to daily morning walks, I realize that during my runs, I don’t engage with my environment in the same way. When I’m running, my mind goes straight to my thoughts or to how my body feels. Whether on the road or trails, I’m paying attention to my environment, but it’s to make sure that I’m not going to get hit by a car or trip on a rock.
When I’m running I’m not looking at the landscape with my painter brain.
I’ll give you an example of how I look when I’m walking. Yesterday on my walk, I noticed the dark shape of the trees behind a meadow, the large expansive green shapes of those meadows, and the way the sky cut into the tree line.
This morning on my walk, I noticed patterns in trees: the v-shape notches between branches and the shapes of the trees before they transition to sky. I also took the time to photograph piles of branches (my current obsession) and to root through them for sticks that might spark my imagination in the studio. Who knows? Those piles of branches might be the jumping off point for a series of drawings or paintings.
So I’m enjoying my walks right now. I’m relishing moving more slowly through space and observing all the changes happening as winter transitions to spring.
Above, you’ll notice my paintings Go easy and Pilot Mountain 3. Going easy sums up this shift to walking from running, and the Pilot Mountain series is inspired by my family’s favorite hiking spot. Find them both in my shop.