Monday, October 10, 2011

On Walking

Yesterday morning I woke up and, realizing it was Saturday, decided to lay in bed for a bit and read. I reached over and picked up what I'd been reading a couple nights earlier: The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson. As I was reading I came to this line wherein Geoff describes walking in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of L.A.:

"I was one of the few people who ever seemed to walk there. I encountered a few dog walkers, the odd person pushing a pram, the occasional jogger, a Mexican maid who didn't have transport, but I seldom saw anyone who was simply walking for the hell of it, as I was."

He then goes on to talk about the time he went out walking, fell down and broke his arm in three places. Maybe it was because I can relate so well to having medical mishaps caused by seemingly innocuous activity, but as I read about walking, I decided that I wanted to do just what I was reading about; I wanted to go for a walk.

So I did. The sky was a steely gray, and there was just enough chill in the air to warrant donning a sweater over my thermal shirt. I left the house thinking that it would start sprinkling before I got back, so I prepared myself mentally for moisture. My concern proved to be unfounded. I did feel several drops as I walked, but it was never anything more than leftover rain that the trees had kept in reserve for passersby such as myself.

I went at a fairly slow pace, allowing myself time to consider the homes along the "tree streets" where I was walking. I entertained myself looking at the homes and the landscaping and gardens around the homes searching out clues that would tell me a little bit about the people who lived in them. I came up with stories about the families living in the homes that were, I'm sure, much more adventurous and exciting than the truth. But who am I to let the truth get in the way of a good story?

As I was walking along, passing broad, generalizing judgments on every home I came across, an older home that was for sale caught my eye. It was clearly well taken care of and had even had some minor remodeling done on the exterior. Not so much remodeling that it lost its old home character, but enough to make it attractive and livable. It was on a corner so I was able to walk past the yard and peer over the fence into it. (I had to see what I was getting into if I bought the place.) I looked into the yard with an eye of criticism, deciding what would need to be done upon purchasing it. I decided that I'd tear out the juniper bushes next to the house and plant roses in their stead. Along the back property line, where the garden met the fence, I'd run a few grape vines. I'd definitely have to cut down and grind out the stump that was in the middle of the yard. The large, established trees that surrounded the home and property, including and apple and pear tree back by the shed next to the garden, made the whole proposition worthwhile and I decided I was sold. As such, I kept walking.

While the weather was a bit threatening and seemed to be keeping most people indoors, I did see a few people along the way. I walked past an older man, complete with overalls, a straw hat, and a small radio tuned to the KSL Greenhouse Show, out weeding his flower bed. I passed a young mother in a house coat gathering up toys that had been left in the front lawn overnight. There were two little boys riding Razor scooters in wide circles in their driveway talking about how awesome the parade was going to be later on. In each case the individuals looked up as I walked by, whereupon I nodded cheerily and said, "Good morning." (I might normally have waved, but my hands were busy keeping themselves warm in my pockets.) To be honest I was a bit surprised to find that, to a person, they responded in kind and were just as cheerful. It was nice to see that some people haven't lost that unconditional friendliness that seems, at times, to be in short supply. I suppose it didn't hurt that my appearance was far from intimidating or imposing as I was wearing glasses, an old gray sweater with white Cosby-esque designs on it, and smile.

By the time I got back to my place I'd been gone for about an hour and the tip of my nose was a bit chilly. As I walked up the steps to the sliding door that would lead me into the kitchen, I felt more content with life than I'd been in some time.

1 comment:

  1. I love taking walks. You inspired me to take one in the rain today (although it was a short on account of the weather). Autumn mornings are ideal for walking.