Iowa Nice

You’ve heard my laments about the lack of a trail protocol on my neighborhood walking path. I get more worked up about sharing the sidewalk than I ever did driving 10,000+ hours on the Gulf Freeway

Somehow, defensive walking doesn’t come nearly as natural to me as defensive driving. It’s as if all those years of repressed road rage is now manifesting as sidewalk snits against the crowds of families and children and bikes and puppies on my route.  I am not proud of this.


I’m in Iowa for a few days, visiting my sister in Urbandale. There is an urban trail nearby that is nice in all the ways I need to get back to my nice walking self: 

Nice trail etiquette

The added clarification on that last sign brings to mind the classic Petter Sellers’ joke “Does your dog bite?” (Video clip)

Nice ladies’ book club

These ladies were sitting together under the shade of a big tree. I asked if I could take their picture because they were such a nice example of how to be with friends while socially distancing.  

They told me it was a book club meeting. They are reading As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner. It’s a story set in 1918 during the Spanish Flu epidemic. Reading about a pandemic during a pandemic–book clubs keeping it real in 2020.

Nice Smells

Suburban Houston has an abundance of vibrant, year-round flowering plants that have no fragrance: crepe myrtles, oleanders, plumerias, azaleas. Jasmine and honeysuckle are happy exceptions.

On the Urbandale trail, a waft of floral fragrance stops me in my tracks. I breathe it in and look for its source. These Iowa plants are visually modest, not flashy like in Houston. In Iowa, the flowers blend into the verdant green of the forest and the summer lawns and gardens. They refuse to announce themselves as the source of perfume.  Still, I think they like it when I notice their work.


All told, the nice trail etiquette, the nice book club ladies, and the nice floral fragrances of Urbandale are convincing me that Iowa is a pretty nice place to walk. Maybe it’s the respite from Houston’s heat and pandemic-caused cabin fever, but I’m going to give the credit to Iowa for having figured things out. 

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