The “walking backward” in the title of this piece isn’t a euphemism. I mean it literally.
It snowed last night, not enough to cover the sidewalks or trees with anything other than a dusting that quickly melted, but snow seems to accumulate on my front ramp, and since there is frigid air above and below the ramp, the snow stays around. I didn’t have a chance to sweep the ramp before I left for work, so I did the next best thing: I walked down the ramp backward so that it looked as if I had arrived home (in case anyone was looking for trouble) rather than that I’d left for the day. I was careful, of course, stepping warily and holding on to the railing, so I made it down the ramp safely.
The thieving neighbor moved, so perhaps such a maneuver wasn’t as important today as it has been in the past when he trolled the streets, but still, I keep getting tarot cards reminding me to be prudent, so I’m being especially cautious nowadays. Of course, I don’t need the cards to tell me to be prudent since I generally am careful, but it’s always good to be reminded that the world isn’t as safe as I would wish it to be.
The snow was melted by the time I got back, so it’s possible my footsteps didn’t hang around long, but still, it did tickle me seeing my shoe prints leading up to the house as I was walking away, so the exercise was worth it on that account alone.
This cold, cold, cold weather will hang around for a few days, with possibly a few flakes of snow drifting our way again, which is fine with me. I do well when the temperature remains fairly consistent, but bobbing barometers wreak havoc with my system. Either I tend to fall asleep during the day or I lie awake most of the night, or both. It’s also easier to figure out how to dress appropriately. And that’s important to me. Even though the people I work for are more than willing to give me a ride home when the weather is inclement, I insist on walking, which seems to bemuse them. To me, it’s about a habit of independence, to keep me on my feet as long as possible. That, too, is literal, and not a euphemism. Being able to stand and walk — backward and forward — are so very important, especially to those of us who are no longer young.
Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.