Thu 4/2/09

A Daily Walk With DietPower

Walking is the best exercise for weight loss. And the things you see!

Skunk cabbage

My, isn't the swamp colorful today?

Last Friday I showed you the purplish spathe of the skunk cabbage (at right), and promised you'd be amazed at what happens to this strange plant as the earth warms. Here's the first surprise: a spear of green leaves shooting straight out of the muck. (The spathe itself seems taken aback by this development, don't you think? Fortunately, it carries a stick for defense.)

You may be thinking that I've goosed the colors in this picture, perhaps by turning up the saturation and brightness in PhotoShop. Not so. The deep aquamarine, magenta, and violet swirls in the water are marriages of reflected sky (intensely blue today, thanks to low humidity) and last autumn's fallen oak leaves, looming cordovan beneath the surface. The olive tones in the background are blooms of algae invading the leaves.

As an editor at Reader's Digest in the 1980s and 90s, I had the pleasure of sitting among priceless paintings that co-founder Lila Wallace had had the foresight to buy for a few thousand dollars in the 1920s and 30s. In my office (once Lila's) I had a Hudson River School painting of West Point, featuring a pentimento—the ghost of a sailboat emerging 135 years after the artist painted it out. Down the hall, in the library and rotunda, hung masterpieces by Manet, Pissaro, Van Gogh, Corot, Matisse, Renoir, Picasso, and Chagall. But the most thrilling treasure was a Monet that dominated the butternut-paneled boardroom—one of the famous Water Lily works painted in Monet's garden at Giverny. (Last June, a Water Lily no bigger and finer than this sold for $60 million at Christie's—a new record for an Impressionist canvas.)

I used to stand and stare at Monet's masterful panorama for minutes on end, wondering at the swirls of blue and gold and rose and purple that he so cleverly applied to picture the light-drenched surface of the pond. Today, sitting on the bank of my little swamp on Kilian Drive, I realized that Monet was only transcribing what he actually saw.

I remained in the swamp only a few minutes, listening to a posse of crows pestering a hawk far away in the treetops. I thought I smelled the delicious fragrance of locust blooms, but decided it was too early for that and I must be imagining things. The swamp is a dreamy place. An hour there can drop your blood pressure and make you 40-percent gladder to be alive. To me, that is worth more than $60 million.

Download DietPower and lose poundsAbout this page: Precisely at noon each day, I step out of my office for a 3.5-mile walk around my Connecticut neighborhood. I carry a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TX5 pocket camera with a Leica 10x optical zoom lens. My object is to make an interesting photograph of at least one thing that is different that day. I post the results here, hoping they will inspire you and your friends to walk, too.  Terry Dunkle, DietPower founder and CEO.

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All My Yesterdays

Wednesday, April 1: Mystery of the Hanging Shoes

Tuesday, March 31: Downy Woodpecker

Monday, March 30: 300-Year-Old House

Sunday, March 29: The Broken Fence

Saturday, March 28: "You're Such a Delight"

Friday, March 27: Skunk Cabbage

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