Photo of leafless tree tops with sun beam

Sunny and Walking Easy

February 26 and at 5:00 PM it is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Nowhere in my memory have we had this kind of glorious day, and it is clear the community is DELIGHTED.

Driving the two mile stretch through town on my way home from work this afternoon, I saw dozens of kids riding their bikes, roller-blades, or mini John Deere tractors. Parents were collecting sticks. Retirees sat in lawn chairs basking in the sun and lack of snow. Reaching home, I dropped by bags in the back door, changed clothes and grabbed my right hand gal, Mabel (sheep-a-doodle). It was too good to miss.

I walk and run all over town with Mabel. One of my favorite parts of living in this region is our old-fashioned walk-ability. In most parts of town our blocks are encircled with sidewalks, and outside of a few adventurous tree-root-created “bike jumps” in some older areas, they are in pretty great shape. (Didn’t you love to try to catch air riding your bike off of those angled sidewalks as a kid?)

And folks are friendly. As I walked our neighborhood, four of my neighbor kids came running to greet my dog and describe their activities. Further down the way, I found a neighbor checking the maple syrup taps already installed (in February!  I am still amazed). A mail carrier asked if Mabel was friendly and with the affirmative went in for a pet.

Years back I had a stint working in Virginia, MN. I worked downtown on Chestnut street, and every lunch hour my co-worker and I would walk. I was stunned the first winter I lived there to find that the city snow-blowed all of the city center sidewalks allowing for great walking all winter long.

This is the kind of thing that is easy to take for granted. But as I travel, I purposefully note those aspects of my life I feel are more easy or accessible at home vs. away. For instance, this last Friday we had a work engagement in St. Paul for which I rented a lovely little AirBNB. The establishment was wonderful, but like many of the neighborhoods of that era, there were no sidewalks. Walking would have required being on the street the whole time, and there was a fair amount of traffic.

As mountain bike enthusiasts, last fall we made the trek to Bentonville, AR, “mountain bike capital of the world.” While Bentonville has built an amazing bike-centric community filled with cool attributes (like The Ledger, an office/coworking/event building around which an outside bike ramp encircles the entire structure, from bottom to top), it was not nearly as easy to traverse by foot as it is on the Iron Range. We were lodged downtown Bentonville, but walking to restaurants/shopping required traversing portions of streets, or marching single-file. And I thought–I like walking at home better!

The thing is, our region works at it. The city of Hibbing, for instance, is currently surveying folks about their experiences walking in Hibbing. The goal is to enhance the ability of people to walk safely all over the town by updating and creating pathways. And Chisholm is in master planning around Redhead to improve access to the mountain bike park from downtown.

It is fantastic to travel. But today I am grateful for a day filled with sunshine and a community where folks still say hello. I am glad that I can easily walk in my neighborhood because it is safe, and we have maintained sidewalks.

It truly is the small things that make life enjoyable.

Join us.



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