Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Walking With an Eye to a New Year

Sadie the Superdawg must have known New Year's Eve is a special day for a walk. Although she limped on the way out the house, she soon hit a smooth stride and insisted -- insisted! -- that we go off the neighborhood sidewalks and into an extended exploration of the wooded footpaths.

That is a little scary these day, what with reports of coyotes becoming more aggressive as well as a few copperhead bites. I really am going to have to start thinking about supplementing my walking stick with a little extra protection. I could stock the nice backpack I received for Christmas with some sort of legal weapon, plus a snakebite kit, some water, and a rain slicker. At least I did remember to carry my camera this time, but alas did not encounter any photogenic wildlife. We must have covered a couple of miles winding through the woods.

Back on the home front, the good news is that the birds finally decided, on this final day of 2013, to chow down at my new fire-engine-red, lantern-shaped feeder. Most of them boycotted for a week, but today a handsome male Cardinal was back, along with a Downey Woodpecker, numerous Mourning Doves, Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, and House Sparrows. Oh, and some Robins were out and about, too. This return to good graces for we feeders of feathered friends sets up well for our participation in the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count in February.

Looking back on this, my first year of senior-fitness blogging, I find that the blog is fast approaching 14,000 "views." I have posted each month of the year, with significant slowdowns only for my total knee replacement in April and my favorite team, the St Louis Cardinals, winning the National League championship and then making a good World Series of it against the Boston Red Sox.

All told, I have written 182 blogposts during this first year, and I am excited about the prospect of continuing for as long as I am able. I would blog each and every day, but I still do some free-lance writing for pay, and there are only 24 hours in a day.

By going into Google's blogger breakdowns, I was able to discover that my single most-read post of the year was "Of Peripatetic Hummers and Pesky Wasps" on September 4. Somewhat surprisingly to me, it had three times the views of the second most-widely read post, "Most of My Words Are Cheers When Cards Make Postseason (October 11)." Maybe some fellow Redbirds' fanatics ran across that one in a Google search. (I probably shouldn't have been surprised by the popularity of an analysis of hummingbird behavior given that these are among God's most fascinating creatures. Also I wrote about an angle I've never seen explored anywhere else -- the hummers' interaction with wasps seeking the same nectar.)

Tied for third place were "On Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of a Good Walk" (a January 11 look at how much Thomas Jefferson valued walking -- as well as Harry Truman in more recent presidential history), and "Enjoy the Ocean But Beware Those Rip Currents,"a July 8 piece I carefully researched in an effort to educate tourists about how not to get trapped by one of these powerful Atlantic outflows -- and how to escape if you do. I received some feedback indicating that the blogpost helped get the word around.

Some recurring topics through 2013 were life with a companionable dog, bird-watching and -counting, types of sturdy walking and hiking sticks, walking in all kinds of weather, walking for exercise and for weight loss, and of course making the decision to have the total knee replacement and then rehabbing hard to make it work. It has.

It has been a very good dawgwalking and blogging year. I look forward to 2014 being a even better one.

                                                     © Robert G. Holland  2013

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