The twilight walk: exercise for those who prefer the shadows.

For a couple of weeks now, more days than not, I’ve been doing something a little different. About an hour before sunset, I leash up my dog, grab my purse and keys, and drive ten minutes to a particular neighborhood in White Bear Lake. Then I walk. And look at things.


I know I could just head out my front door on foot and go, but I don’t enjoy the sprawling lawns of the neighborhood surrounding me as much as I do the village gardens, snugged up next to each other.

It’s not really exercise, because:

  • I don’t change into anything resembling workout wear.
  • I don’t walk for any set time.
  • I pause, stop, even sit down whenever I feel like it.
  • I neither break a sweat nor raise my heart rate.
  • I’m not miserable.

See, to me, real exercise has always been something one does at the gym or in front of a blaring TV. It’s loud, and bright, and unbearably upbeat. If you know me, you know that’s not my favorite kind of environment. If you read this blog, you probably don’t care for it much either.

Even so, I’ve been thinking lately that I have to start going to the gym again. These 10-18 hour days of sitting in an office chair – hunched over a keyboard until my back locks up and my mousing wrist gets hot –  are turning me into an old woman. But I keep putting that off, because the process is such a chore. I’ve been off that horse for a while, and climbing back on doesn’t appeal.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t spent much time resolving to go back. Ever since I quit the job at the hotel, I’ve been so focused on writing that I’ve been neglecting my body. In fact, I wasn’t even thinking about my health when I started the walks … I just felt bad for my dog, who was cutting short his own (purely utilitarian) daytime walks because of the heat and humidity. Guilt and concern made me take him out one cool evening.

Now we go because that first pity-walk made me remember that I need to unkink. So it IS exercise, even if it’s no fitness walk. It’s just as good for my mind and soul as it is for my body. I already feel a little better physically. And I’m remembering how good it feels to actually move around.

Yesterday, I skipped the walk. I watched Dexter with Ogre, then worked on the mostly-invisible blog revisions some more. By the time I was finally ready to quit for the day, it was so late that my normal walk might have gotten me arrested for casing the neighborhood. I was a pretty much one big knot of tight muscles. I wasted a minute or two shaming myself for not taking my opportunity to walk. 

Then I spent 10-15 stretching out. I used some of the yoga poses I remembered from classes I’ve taken, and I made up some by paying attention to what my shoulders and lower back were telling me to do.

Before I started my twilight walks, I wouldn’t have thought to stretch out. I might have climbed into a hot bath, but I would most likely have just gone to bed, hoping sleep would fix me before it was time to sit down at the keyboard again.

So, in its own way then, this twilight walk has been the best kind of exercise. Not only will I do it happily, it has energized me enough to take another step in the right direction.

In case all this talk of feeling better hasn’t been enough to send you out the door, here’s a sampling of the kinds of things I see.

It’s worth the drive to go to a place that feeds your soul.


14 Comments on “The twilight walk: exercise for those who prefer the shadows.”

  1. angryscholar says:

    Exercise? EXERCISE?! I say thee, NAY. Now good day, Madam.

    I said, GOOD. DAY.

  2. HA! Casing the neighborhood. Almost peed. That video was beautiful. I was getting ready to ask where you lived again, then I finished the video. Duh. 🙂 Apparently I need to visit MN because it’s so scenic. I especially like the pics taken at dusk with the warm lights in the houses, etc.

    Starting this summer I’ve been to the gym since the doc told me to stop walking (my degenerating old person bones). I’ve been elipticaling and swimming. LOVE the swimming, but you don’t really lose weight doing that for the most part… so I try to alternate between that and eliptical. I am definitely not a fan of the noisy and obnoxious and flirtatious and meat head swarmed gym. I much prefer walks like your video… but ah well…

    • It is beautiful here, and White Bear Lake is one of the prettiest towns I’ve seen. Call me shallow, but that was a big factor in choosing to relocate here when life on the farm blew up. I don’t think it’s our forever home though, because Minnesota winters are just too cruel for me. I can’t imagine being old and battling the ice and snow for so much of the year. The plan is to go to North Carolina, eventually.

      So sorry to hear that walks are off the table for you. I don’t know what I’d do. All my life, walks have been important.

  3. By the way… new tag line for your site? Or am I only just noticing it? Love it. 🙂

  4. Hunter Shea says:

    I felt like I was walking right alongside you. Great pictures and the music was perfect.

  5. OMGosh! The video almost lulled me to sleep. Thank you, Renae!

    I am used to very hard-core workouts (I lift weights and hills street-hike and also do step aerobics), but I can see your point, of strolling along and taking it all in, at a comfortable pace. 🙂

    By the way, I absolutely LOVE the picture of you above, hlding the camera. You look beautiful and classy!

    • Thank you. It’s one of those photographs that just turned out really well. It’s a selfie, taken in the bathroom of a bar called Donnie Dirk’s Zombie Den 😀

      You’re my hero. I hope to work up to that kind of activity. It does NOT come naturally to a bookworm like me.

  6. Walking is a wonderful way to connect with nature, people and it’s good for our body and mind. I’m sure it will spark your writing (not that you need any) too. I have found I think clearer, move better and face challenges better when I exercise. Let us know if you run across interesting characters or other things in your travels. You’re very engaging when telling a story.

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