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  • Patrick Stoll

Blue Skies Walking

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

I was infected with an ear worm early this morning. I had the television on in the background while stretching before a run. A commercial came on that made use of the old Turtles song from the 60’s, Happy Together. I have no idea what the commercial was about but the song got stuck in my head. Once it took root, it kept playing on a loop with one line in particular jumping out – “When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue, for all my life.” As irritating as the worm had become, it made me realize we can all use some blue skies right now.

I go for a run or a mountain bike ride pretty much every morning. Since the arrival of the “gift” from China, I have added a regular evening walk to my ritual. Most evenings it's a 1-2 hour walk on the Boise Greenbelt but it might also be a stroll through the east or north end of town or a hike in the foothills. These evening walks seems to clear my head better than the morning workout. Even on overcast evenings, the sky seems bluer by the time I get back home.

I started my evening walks a few weeks before the covid thing was declared an official pandemic. Even then, the news was already starting to look grim. I made the photo below the end of February on a walk near Barber Park.

A few days later (early March) I was walking a 6 mile loop along the Warm Springs Golf Course, below the Mesa, across the East Park Center Bridge, and back along the Bethine Church Nature Trail (I hike this loop about once a week and will refer to it in the future as the "Warm Springs/BCNT loop"). At one point along the way it started raining. When the sun broke through the clouds, it illuminated the top of the cottonwoods along the banks of the river and created a beautiful rainbow.

By mid-March, a number of events had been cancelled, including the Treefort Music Festival. A palpable feeling of anxiety hung in the air. During a walk along the Greenbelt, I noticed that some of the blossoms on the volunteer fruit trees along the river were starting burst out. By the end of the walk, I was feeling much better.

One of my Greenbelt routes takes me along the north side of the Boise River, past Fish and Game's MK Nature Center (MKNC). Three days before Governor Little's stay at home order was issued on March 26, I passed through the MKNC on my evening walk and made the photo below.

On another walk a week later, I stopped by the MKNC once again and made a photo of what I call, the "Squirrel Cam". As I look at it now, it reminds me of the doorman at the Emerald City gates porthole in the Wizard of Oz - "Who rang that bell?".

I like to hit the foothills trails on some of my evening strolls. I really enjoy the wildflowers and the views from the trails above the Old Penitentiary. As I was hiking on the trail to the top of Castle Rock, two young guys going to the top passed me on their mountain bikes. They were still at the top when I got there and I made the photo below.

The east and north end neighborhoods are also one of my favorite places to walk. I love the beautiful architecture of the older homes. One home meant to look old was built in the last few years. At the time it was being constructed, many of the neighbors thought it was out of place.

By the end of April, spring was in full swing. Every walk was pleasant. Once again I found myself on the Warm Springs/BCNT.

A week after making the above photos, I was back walking along the Warm Springs/BCNT on a Friday evening in early May. At one point, Logger Creek flows along the trail before entering a large pond.The pond is home to a number of ducks, geese, and a pair of swans. As I walked by on that Friday evening, the low angle of the golden sunlight provided perfect illumination for photographing the swans. It was very easy to forget, at least for a short time, about the darkness in the world.

Two days after making the photos of the swans, I ended up walking along the Greenbelt next to Boise State University. On what would have been the start of finals week under other circumstances, the campus was deserted. It seemed very strange indeed.

Walking back toward home that same day, I noticed a message of hope that someone had created and propped up by the tunnel passing under the Broadway Bridge.

I am saddened by all the development going on throughout the Treasure Valley. That being said, it can provide an interesting element for an evening photo.

On May 5, two days after making the above photograph, I decided to take my evening walk to the Oregon Trail Reserve, an Ada County park located on the east side of town. Remnants of the Trail pass through the park in an area above the Boise River Diversion Dam. The moon was two days from being full, my favorite time to make use of it in a photograph.

As I write this, Governor Little's stay at home order is gradually being lifted. Hopefully, it will work out okay. I plan to continue with my evening walks (Stoll strolls) and may post some new photos in the future.

And my ear worm? Well, that one is gone. To get rid of it, I remembered something I had read suggesting a way shut 'em down. The technique involved focusing on something else. For some reason, another song from the 60's popped into my head. It was The Letter by the Box Tops. "Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane..."



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