Christmas Day, we had a couple of friends to dinner. Our friends brought contributions to the meal, and we had wonderful conversation. We also delighted in watching them enjoy our dogs and swapped many dog stories. I’m sure dog owners are as appreciative of the chance to talk about their furry companions as grandparents are to tell you about their grandkids. We even share pictures and videos with those who will let us.

I mention this happy gathering in part because one of our friends, who had brought a beautiful salad to share, said she was worried her contribution would end up in this column with an unfavorable review. Of course that means I must talk about her delicious salad, which was a wonderful addition to our Christmas dinner. Thank you, Pat, for your contribution, and your presence, which added so much to our celebration.

Rosie and I took a walk this morning along the path around our property. It was gray and cold, but I wanted to be outside, to feel the chill and look for signs of change in the woods. Rosie bounded ahead, intent on her own discoveries.

There were branches broken by the recent violent windstorm and patches of ice on some of the outcroppings of ledge that we walked carefully around. Well, I walked carefully. Rosie seemed to avoid them with much less deliberation.

Mostly, the landscape seemed as frozen as the ice-covered ledge, but I noticed some things. There were still green leaves on some of the bushes. There were buds on the trees. And it came to me that as fleeting as autumn’s glory seems, this time is no less impermanent. Soon Martin Luther King Jr. Day will become Valentine’s Day and then St. Patrick’s, and spring will be on our doorstep all over again.

For the last two-plus years, I have walked regularly on my treadmill in the basement, and it has done me a lot of good. One thing that has helped me be faithful to my exercise program is the BBC Radio app, on which I listen to a weekly Scottish country dance music program. When I hear those tunes, with the accordion, piano and bass swinging along, I walk with an extra bounce in my step, and even clap along to the music sometimes, which must raise my heart rate a little more.

The music is a great mood lifter, as is the Scottish accent of the announcer. Besides the dance music, there are interviews with a range of musicians and others, all of which makes the time pass almost painlessly. For me, consistency is the key to doing something I want to do but am not naturally inclined to do, like walking on the treadmill. The reward is not immediate, and the activity is not enjoyable in itself, so adding the music is a way to have a payoff I don’t have to wait for while the exercise has its good effect.

I expect to continue bouncing into the New Year with “Strip the Willow,” “Britannia Two-Step,” “Dashing White Sergeant,” and all the other dances that bring joy to my walks. I hope you, too, find ways to take delight in everyday activities, and I wish you a blessed New Year.

Sarah E. Reynolds is a former editor of The Republican Journal.