The Riverwalk, My Private Place

I believe that we all have interests and activities that are inherently natural for us as individuals. The physical exercise that best resonates with me is walking. I started walking several years ago, and it is something that I not only enjoy but also that I look forward to. However, if I don’t walk for several days, my formerly easy treks become tiring. I’m not too fond of that feeling. Insufferably hot days have challenged me; I typically walk during the late morning or early afternoon. Naturally, these are the highest temperature times for such escapades.

I checked my iPhone’s weather app and confirmed what I already knew. Today’s high temperature would be around 100F. Another sweltering day, it was time for a change of plans.

I’m a comfortable stroller. I love to listen to the sounds around me, smell the smells, and ambulate at a rate where it is easy to think, meditate, and say hello to those who cross my path.  

Lately, I have developed a habit of spending my early mornings writing, reading, and doing mundane tasks, like checking my email. However, today was a time to mix things up. After I woke up and cleaned up, I immediately got dressed. I had gotten some new trail runners for Father’s Day to replace my worn-out Asics hikers. So I slipped them on and went out the door. The temperature would be rising soon; it was time to move.

The air was warm and welcoming. Perhaps the humidity was too high, but a light breeze compensated for the increased moisture. The weather felt perfect.

I made my way to The Riverwalk and onto its paths. I was utterly alone. Perhaps the specter of the repressive weather report kept people away, or maybe it was the early weekday hour. I celebrated the scheduling freedom of my retirement as I put one foot in front of the other. I inhaled the sweet smells of flowers mixed with the green aroma of grass. Both tickled my nose and triggered camping memories. Birds chirped, and leaves rustled. Otherwise, all was quiet. Even the sounds of my footfalls were dampened by the thick rubber soles of my new Salomons. My steady pace continued. 

I love walking on The Riverwalk. Dirt paths, brick paths, grassy fields, and covered bridges. My times there feel like I am at a vacation destination, but today was special. I was walking in my private estate. I became lost in my thoughts yet acutely aware of my surroundings. The playground was empty; the beach was quiet. My walk continued over a covered bridge to the south side of the path. No one was at the paddle boat pond; the park benches were vacant. My walk continued. Peace washed over me.

Soon my loop was almost completed. I sat on a quiet bench to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. Then up, then walking, I continued. I exited onto Jefferson Avenue to find that the city was waking. A few cars whizzed by me, and ahead was a man ambulating in my direction. My space, private no more; it had been mine for a few privileged moments—a period of exclusive beauty. A gift of nature was given to me because of a change in plans—a change with delightful consequences.

Do you ever get surprised when a simple change in your life gives you an unexpected benefit? I celebrate such discoveries. I choose to look at an obstacle as an opportunity. Life is often what we make of it. Having to change plans isn’t always negative; our attitude and acceptance can be the secret sauce to happiness.  


The playground was empty.
The park benches were empty.
The pavilion was empty.
The beach was empty.
The paddleboat pond was empty.
I crossed a covered bridge to the south side of the path.
The river flowed below me.
A deer and her fawns enjoyed the coolness of the river.