Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cumquat Ramble


I keep reading in various places that walking is one of the best exercises, especially for seniors. Our afternoon walk here in Washington, Ark. today was great. When those magnolia pods turn red the trees have their own brilliant ornaments. There is a huge and famous magnolia tree a couple of blocks from our house that was planted a hundred years before I was born. It is said to be the largest in the world. It keeps on putting on sprouts from its own root system and it has spread out so much that the state park has closed the road in front of it to keep cars off the system.

Nearby, there are several cumquat trees. No one around here is gathering this pithy fruit. Mowers are running over these little globes that resemble miniature oranges. I guess because they have so many seeds, people don’t want to fool with them. My wife, however, thinks they are beautiful. She has picked several up off the ground to place in glass vases to enhance the fall d├ęcor of our house and dining room. I cut one open and tasted it. They are orange-flavored, but very seedy, too. The limbs are quite thorny. In fact, one could make a credible crown of thorns from them.

Down the road towards the blacksmith shop is a small but quite prolific persimmon tree. I picked up a couple of them from the ground today and ate them on the spot. I was surprised at how ripe and tender they were. Unlike the cumquats, they only have one or two seeds each. We are not supposed to pick anything in a state park, but if fruit has fallen to the ground, it is fine. With the exception, that is, of pecans. People at the park will fuss at you if you pick up pecans. Fortunately, we have several giant pecan trees in our yard. We run a contest with the squirrels to gather them. We have too many squirrels around here. Fussing at them does not help at all.

The back road walk to the Southwest Arkansas Archives is the most beautiful in the park. It is a two-rutted dirt road that meanders in front of historic houses, farms and pastures, culminating in a forest walk across a wooden bridge. If you come over to the tavern restaurant for lunch one day, you should walk west down the road in front of the tavern. That is the one I am talking about. Once you pass the 1874 courthouse, you will see what I mean. Down to the archives from the restaurant is about a half mile. So from your car in the parking lot to the end of the end of the trail and back would be a good mile, some uphill and some downhill. The best things in life are free.

Walking is healthy for the body. If you have a beautiful place to walk in nature, it is healthy for your mind and spirit as well.

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