Not long ago, in January 2008, a small group of friends that included Sarah and me decided to share our love of walking with the community. We got the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sebastopol, and the local hospital to help publicize our first efforts. We got a total of $500 from Apple Valley Convalescent Hospital as the seed money (that's all) and off we went. Our first walks drew very few people outside our core group. But now we see lots more people and are making new friends and acquaintances on our walks.
We offer walks on the final Saturday of each month. This month's walk attracted more than 40 walkers even though it was a scorcher.
I got this photo of most of us at the beginning of the walk. We went into the Laguna de Santa Rosa on a property normally closed to the public.
Early on we crossed the Laguna and spotted a Green Heron resting in the shade.
This turtle posed for me.
There are sweeping views in the floodplain.
We stopped often to listen to docents from the Laguna Foundation tell us about the natural and human history of the area.
We rested in the shade (it was 99°F) of several trees, this one a Black Walnut (Juglans nigra).
Black walnuts, a member of the hickory family, produce nuts that run a bit smaller than the more familiar English walnut.
Black walnuts come in a tough outer husk which produces a juice that becomes an inky greenish-black stain when exposed to air. Pomo Indians used these walnut husk-juices to dye the fibers woven into their baskets.
Black walnuts have hardy rootstock. People figured out that the best way to grow walnuts in these parts is to graft English walnut branches on Black Walnut trees so as to get the best of both worlds: a hardy tree producing a tasty walnut.
Someone with sharp eyes pointed out this praying mantis resting in the grass. This one knows what Mary Oliver was talking about when she mentions prayers made of grass.
This image can be enlarged by clicking on it.
I enjoyed several conversations along the way, mostly with friends from earlier hikes. But what makes these outings such fun is the opportunity to meet new friends. I particularly enjoyed talking this morning with two women around my age, Patricia Currie, a fellow teacher who told me that she substituted for me 20 years ago at the beginning of her career as a teacher.
I also enjoyed meeting David Peterson, a geologist, and his wife, Paula. Paula enjoyed photography, walking, and natural history so much that (to me, privately) she seemed in many ways to resemble Delwyn Tatton. (If she had talked in an Australian accent, the effect would have been complete.) I allowed myself permission to pretend that I was enjoying the pleasure of meeting and walking with my blogging buddy, Delwyn. This made me warmer and more outgoing than I normally am, and we got along splendidly. So this is one way that the friendships we develop through blogging can influence actual face-to-face new friendships in a positive way.