On Walking

On Walking

Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of the big snow, I realized I was down to only one egg, so I set off, with Raymond, for the little health food store a couple of blocks from my house. Ray hadn’t had a proper walk because of the snow, and I was feeling like I needed some exercise, and the roads were so crummy I didn’t want to drive. Well, Foodworks was out of my Milk Lady’s eggs, and what can I say? After eating her unbelievably great farm eggs for the past couple of years I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the “organic” “free-range” whatever commercial eggs. I wanted Isabelle’s eggs. And there were none. After a short round of exclaiming bad words under my breath I left the store and untied Ray from the bench and thought well, why not? We headed off on foot across town to the other grocery store.

Now, in the mornings Ray and I walk about 10 blocks to the dog park, do a lap or two, and walk back. The grocery store was only a few blocks further away on the other side of town, and I had a bag I’d brought with me, so off we went.

What I love about walking is the things you see. Houses you didn’t know were for sale. The acquaintance I ran into who I’d seen at the Obama fundraiser the day before — we chatted for 10 minutes about politics, about how we love living in a state so small our Senators show up for those things, about how great the music was before heading back down the block. On the way home, I discovered that the little Mexican restaurant that closed is coming back soon in a new incarnation serving Cuban and Latin American food. Then, when we got to Bill and Maryanne’s house, Ray went up their steps, stood at the gate until we all had to have a small visit because he knows their house, knows their dogs.  “Do you want to come in?” Maryanne asked and I said no, because by then we’d been gone over an hour, and I wanted to get home, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to say hi, to remind ourselves that we all live here together.

Then a few blocks from home Ray ran to the end of the block, and because he knows he’s not allowed to cross the street he headed up the side block. I got to the corner and saw my friend Robin, in her car with her dogs. She pulled up. “I was about to get out,” she said. “I saw Ray and didn’t know why he was on this side of town by himself.” So we chatted for a few minutes about her husband’s campaign, about the fundraiser, about dogs, and then Ray and I walked the last three blocks home.

It was a good walk to the store. We got eggs. We saw people we like. We got a little exercise. We participated in the life of our community. It’s a good thing to get out of the car. It’s a good thing to walk, to slow down, to look at things and talk to the people we like. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to live in town (as much as my fantasy life involves a bigger garden and livestock) — because when you live alone it’s good to live in a place where when you go outside you see people, you talk to people, you’re involved in the communal endeavor.

And the snow was pretty too.

2 thoughts on “On Walking

  1. Over the summer, while it was hot and humid, I started getting up at 5AM to take a walk before work. I was surprised at how many women were out walking on their own, or in groups of two or three. I would see about the same people every morning, and now when I see them in the grocery store or the library, I feel that I know them a little, and we say, “hi” and chat. Walking does give you a feeling of community and get you out and about with your neighbors. I also just bought a big, old-fashioned cruiser bike, and ride it to the three coffee shops/diners in my ‘hood that have outdoor seating. That is a good way to meet people, too—my bike is black with pink flames and rims, and all the old guys especially have to stop and ask me about it.

  2. There were so many cool cruiser bikes here this summer — it was really fun to see them all. The gas crisis had everyone digging out their old bikes and actually riding them — lots of kids (and groceries) in carriers — and there’s one older, heavyset person on oxygen who I see riding his three wheeler all over town — oxygen tank in the basket behind him — may I be so undaunted by age and ill health. And it’s nice to build nodding acquaintances with people — there’s nothing sadder than those subdivisions with no sidewalks! Yargh …

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