Florida Weekly Column

No Speeding in the Slough

No Speeding in the Slough

I have been paying more attention to my steps these days as I continue to accumulate miles as part of Healthy Lee’s Million Mile Movement.  Counting the steps over the last few weeks has made me realize I am not moving as much as I thought I was.  I am reminded of how important it is to measure things and use data in our day-to-day lives.

Don’t worry- I am not about to launch into a data rant column.  Because as much as the measuring has been on my mind the experience I have while doing it has been equally important.

I can get the steps in on a treadmill and from time to time I take that approach but I have also used this new goal to expose myself to the walking trails in Southwest Florida.  I have been to the beach, Lakes Park and a variety of other walkable paths doing my collective part in walking a million miles.

My goal is to take my eyes off my fitbit step counter and focus on the beauty around me.  My Type A personality tends to get focused on the destination rather than the journey.  So on a recent walk I set out for the Six Mile Slough Preserve.  The preserve is a critical wetland system having positive value in inspiring and educating its visitors about wetlands and their roles in preserving the environment and local quality of life. The preserve has a winding boardwalk, guided tours and an interactive center that is open to the public.

I must admit I had visions of a chance to really knock off a mighty number of steps in a short period of time.

I was going to take on the boardwalk that surrounds the Slough and loop it as many times as necessary to reach my 10,000 step goal before getting on with the rest of my day.

With ear buds firmly in my ears and my walking shoes laced tight- I hit the trail ready to knock off the steps in short order.

I was quickly greeted by other guests on the boardwalk who were holding binoculars, very long camera lenses, wildlife maps and relaxed, friendly and laid back dispositions.  I had to stop myself from running them over.

Just as quickly I noticed signs encouraging me to enjoy the natural beauty of the Slough and reminding me that cell phones and powerwalking were taboo.

For a split second I thought about retreating to the parking lot and walking in circles, but as I looked down the canopy arching over the slough I was drawn into the preserve.

I pulled out the earphones, took several deep breaths and spent the next two hours winding my way through a serene ecosystem that I had virtually ignored for years.

I began smiling and greeting my fellow board walkers and let them point out birds and flora and fauna that were new to me.

If I ever got the urge to count steps or speed things up subtle reminders were posted at benches that encouraged me to stop and take things in rather than move things along.

At one such stopping point a quote from Henry David Thoreau put the walk into perspective, “You learn that if you sit in the woods and wait something happens.”

I am still counting my steps but also taking the time to appreciate more fully groups like Lee County Parks and Rec and Friends of the Six Mile Slough Preserve for providing me a place to sit, wait and appreciate the beauty that is around me.  Each step I count is really just part of that bigger journey.

If you have a favorite walking spot, please let me know, I am listening.  Please email me at [email protected].

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It also granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.



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