Spring Brain Cleaning

A little walk to whisk away winter's cobwebs

Spring has arrived—by the calendar at least.  Here in the easternmost reaches of Ontario, the landscape looks more wintry than spring-like.  The ground is blanketed with snow and there is not a crocus nor a green bud to be seen.  The only sure signs of spring are the presence of a few bewildered robins and the absence of tiresome early-morning snow ploughs.

Each spring, as soon as our road is bare of snow, I’m eager to get out and walk.  Our rural road is narrow and busy: too dangerous to walk on until the snow has receded a few feet from the edges, providing a safe zone from passing vehicles.  Every winter—and every spring—brings varying conditions.  Some years my first walk is in February while other years I’ve had to wait until April.

By the end of winter, I eagerly anticipate getting out walking.  Walking is an easy activity that requires little preparation, no special equipment, and only a moment’s notice.  After a glance at the thermometer to determine outerwear requirements, I can lace up my shoes and be on my way.

After spending the winter buried in my studies, I need to get moving again.  Muscles have atrophied from sitting at my desk for hours every day.  My bum seems to have spread to match the contours—and girth—of my desk chair.

I start the first couple of walks slowly.  I had to stretch unused muscles to reacquaint them with the notion of movement and exertion.  And that’s just getting my shoes on!

Like my body, my mind needs to get moving again.  Although four courses take a lot of brain power, it’s such a limited focus.  Like spending the winter confined within four walls, my brain has spent the winter confined to four courses.  There’s so much more out there and my mind yearns for the limitless prospect of open spaces and infinite options.

Walking time is thinking time.  Along our straight, flat, country road, the act of walking demands limited mental energy.  My senses drink in the landscape while the fresh breeze stirs up the dusty corners of my mind.  I seldom set out to hatch ideas while I’m walking, but creative thoughts burst in my head like fireworks.

I can solve many problems during a 20-minute walk.  Increased blood circulation and oxygen intake prompt a clarity of thought that caffeine and confined spaces cannot.  Tearing myself away from my cluttered desk liberates my creative spirit.  I return home re-energized and brimming with ideas to set in motion.

I’ve spent all winter juggling—and often fumbling—my final four AU courses.  Now it’s spring, and the horizon is stretching out before me.