I need to drive my car approximately once a week to keep it running and to prevent the cheap modern gas from destroying the hoses, which works out well since I use the weekly drive to get groceries that are too heavy to carry on foot.
Today, however, I didn’t need anything so, out of curiosity, I drove the route I usually walk to find out my mileage, and I was shocked to see that I’d been walking less than two miles. (It felt much longer.) I drove around for a while, trying to find a way to extend the walk without having to retrace my steps, but somehow the new way turned to be not much longer — exactly two miles. Which is fine, if that’s all I wanted to walk.
Three miles should be easy and doable except in the winter and summer, and in this area, it seems as if it’s almost always winter or summer. Still, regardless of weather, three miles is not a hard walk. At least, it wasn’t. I sure hope I’m not already declining to such an extent that three miles is beyond me.
The easiest thing, of course, would be to do the mile and a half course twice. That course takes me by the high school, so I suppose I could do laps, but that would be even more boring than retracing my steps.
I like the walk I’ve been doing, despite the short distance. It skirts the town, so I have houses on one side of me and fields on the other, and it’s relatively quiet and dog free. It’s amazing how many people in this town have vicious dogs, and how many fences seem too low to keep the dogs inside. Some people don’t even have fences and merely put the dogs out on long leashes, and I fear even the chain link leashes won’t hold up to the strain those pit bulls put on them. The dogs have, in fact, broken the chains, just not when I was around. (Whew!) The problem is, the chains are very long, allowing the dogs to get fierce running starts, so I try to avoid those houses, as well as many others.
There is another walk I can take that goes out into the country, and I think it’s relatively dog free, so maybe next time I drive, I’ll check to see where my turnaround would be.
All this talk of walking reminds me of my hikes in the desert.
I do miss living within walking distance of a wilderness area, even a tame one like my desert. I miss the freedom of the open spaces and following trails wherever they lead, but I suppose it’s not a bad thing, now that I’m growing older, not to have to navigate rocky paths and to stick to paved roads.
Mostly I miss the dream of an epic hike. Miss preparing to live on the trail for weeks or months. Miss the thought of going and going and going. The dream turned out to be truly impossible, and It seems as if when that dream dried, it took the joy of walking with it.
Someday, maybe, the love will come back and walking won’t be just a way of exercising or a means of getting from one place to another.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.