The beauty of a turtle’s pace

We try to walk several miles every day. By we, I mean, Sharon and I, or Sharon and the boys, or each one of us alone. We have several routes of known length because gravel roads one mile apart separate each of the sections in the township. A section is like a city block, only larger, and numbered. We live in section 30 of our township. Each township normally contains 36 sections, and each section normally is 640 acres, adjusted for rivers and other natural features.

Anyway, because we have 3/4 of a mile to the next intersection to the south of us, we have been walking anywhere from 1.5 miles (to that corner and back) to 3.5 miles (to that corner and the next corner, and back) for several months, now. On Father’s Day, after we returned from afternoon church, those of us who wanted to walk decided to walk around the entire section (a total of four miles). And it was good, though tiring, and hot.

From the time we left the house, headed north to the first corner, to the time we returned to the same spot, was about 1 1/2 hours. That figures out to be approximately 22 1/2 minutes per mile. It’s a snail’s, er, turtle’s pace, compared to our normal transportation. But we gain so much.

One of the advantages of the slower pace is revelation of beauty. It’s always there, but flying at 40 mph with the car or at 30,000 feet in a jet, the eyes miss so much. From the distance, or with GPS, the lands looks mostly flat.

The reality of the walking level is much different. The undulant fields, pastures, and roads play with the shadows at Vespers and the rising mists of morning. Darting in and out of the grassy roadside ditches, the dogs have uncovered killdeer, 13-lined ground squirrels (or 13-lined gophers), and today, about 20 feet in front of me, a male ring-necked pheasant. Even without the help of canines, we delight in monarch butterflies flitting about their milkweed plants and in the pink or purple moss roses anchored in the roadside gravel.

On Thursday last, we went for a walk and took a detour after seeing a returning neighbor. We saw her last season, or one of her relatives, at least. Here she is:

The snapping turtle had a shell about 12-14 inches from the nose end to the tail end. She was burying eggs in the gravel and dirt. We kept the dogs at heel, looked at her for a few minutes, and continued walking through the clover and alfalfa of the buffer strip. She waited us out and continued her task.

Ah, the slow life has a beauty of its own.