A little bit about a lot of things:

•  Sometimes, in our increasingly complex and crazy world, the little things are to be savored and appreciated.

Take, for example, a walk in the park....which is something that just gained huge popularity in Gustine, Schmidt Park to be specific.

I paid a visit last week to the newly-constructed walking/cycling path which winds its way around the stately park, and was more than impressed by both: A) the pathway itself, and: B) the number of people using the new amenity.

Groups of people, many of them families, could be seen throughout the pathway, enjoying a sunny January afternoon as they strolled through the park.

The feedback I got from those who stopped to visit was overwhelmingly positive.

A variety of reasons most likely contribute to the popularity of the pathway.

The newness is a factor, I’m sure, as was just the opportunity to get out and do something in our “stay-at-home” environment.

The draw of an unseasonably warm winter afternoon is pretty strong as well.

Thing of it is, those folks were genuinely enjoying themselves with something as basic as taking a walk in the park.....and therein, I believe, rests the staying power of the popularity of the walking path.

People were getting healthy exercise.

Enjoying one another’s company.

No screens, no on-off switches, no devices.

Thinking back, I’m not sure that I saw any walkers - certainly very few if any - with their face in a phone. How different is that in today’s world? People were actually talking instead of texting; enjoying their surroundings instead of checking their Facebook page every 45 seconds.

That was kind of refreshing, and there is probably a message in that somewhere.....no, don’t check your phone, it’s not that kind of message.

Kudos to Gustine for the pathway project.....great addition to the community’s largest park - and one that has been in need of a little love. More is to come with the addition of new playground equipment and refurbished tennis courts.

Now, having seen the initial reaction to the Gustine walkway, I’m even more excited about Newman’s plans to include a nature-based walking trail in property it is developing as a wetlands area near town.

Because for all the grand plans that each city may harbor, all our reliance on technology and the hustle of our daily lives, sometimes we have to remember not to overlook the simple things in life.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter.

•  Changes again in the state’s stay-at-home order on Monday, with restaurants in San Joaquin Valley counties now allowed to offer outdoor dining and hair salons, barbers, etc., able to operate indoors under strict guidelines. That step in the right direction is encouraging.....as are some of the virus trends that are emerging.

Still, though, the fact that Newman surpassed 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases last week and has suffered the loss of 18 lives is a sobering reminder that the pandemic is all too real, and it’s not over.

But as we have gone through this, I sure would have appreciated more clarity on some of the decisions surrounding the pandemic restrictions and transparency on the data driving those decisions.

Some, to say the least, didn’t always seem to make a lot of sense......and people being asked to make sacrifices should at least have some confidence and assurance that sound reasoning was behind those restrictions.

Just sayin’.

Stay safe!

•  For as much as we enjoyed mild weather in January, what we have really needed is some rain.....and Mother Nature was expected to finally deliver much-needed precipitation this week.

To say that things have been dry is an understatement.

Since a drenching storm in December 2019, rainfall has been pretty sparse in these parts.

According to my tabulation of weather watcher Marge Carvalho’s weekly reports, Newman received a grand total of a little over three inches of rain in calendar year 2020. Gustine weather watcher Tony Rocha reported a similar total for the calendar year.

I understand that our average annual rainfall is in the ballpark of 10-12 inches.

So, to say we’ve been dry for a while would be an understatement.

But we have seen some significant February and March storms over the years, and hopefully by the time this column is in your hands Mother Nature has started to remedy the situation.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.