From Spring until Fall my wife and I rise with the early morning light of dawn (my blog next Thursday will define such seemingly ambiguous terms as dawn, dusk, twilight etc.) and walk 3 miles around Lake Waban at Wellesley College.
We have our ritual - we park at the College Club and start walking at the south end of the lake. We check out the family of swans that lives on a protected point to watch the progress of their groaning cygnets. We walk through the Hunnewell estate (pictured above) and it's "Dr. Seuss" forest of topiary trees and Japanese tea house. We watch for the purple martins feeding their young in a lakeside meadow. I look for the emerging mushrooms on the West side of the lake so I can prepare for the day's calls from poison control about the mushrooms kids are likely to ingest.
We check out the status of Catbird, Oriole and Robin's nests, watch the young broods of ducks feeding in the marshlands, and look for muskrats carrying greens to their lodges.
Most importantly, it's a quiet time to connect, reflect on the goals of the day, the state of our family, and plans for the future. In the quiet of the morning mist and blue light of sunrise we can solve every problem and address every concern without the distraction of a screen, a blackberry, or undone house chores.
Having this time is really important. I'm convinced that 90% of stress in life is a result of miscommunication - waiting to speak instead of listening. Walks are great way to listen - other than than birdsong, the splash of fish, or buzz of a dragonfly there are no distractions. Your muscles are moving, your brain is clear, and stress is low. A few years ago, I wrote about conflict resolution and suggested figurative Walks in the Woods.
30 years of walking with my wife has led to a romance, friendship, and partnership that is as strong as when we first met in the Summer of 1980. Last week, the Boston Globe wrote about the language of marriage. Our walks have been the place where that language has blossomed.
So find your own Lake Waban and make the most of your relationship, footstep by footstep.