Just a walk in the park

My cousin Eddie always has something going on, whether it’s biking the C&O Canal, going out west to round up horses because it sounded like fun, or seeing if he could walk 200 miles in a year.

Eddie is my older cousin and if he could log 200 miles, why not me? The idea seems especially enticing during these days of resolutions, not to mention combating the recent holidays with all that non-stop eating. Indeed. How can you say no to all those bakers who worked so hard rolling out cookies and pies?

Walking has always been part of my routine, whether it was as a teenager helping my brother to deliver newspapers around town every Sunday morning or hiking the woods that bordered our neighborhood. The walks I made with a canvas bag stuffed with newspapers slung over my shoulder were perfect for sorting out my teen angst. How did I get the popular basketball player to notice me? What did I want to do with my life if I couldn’t be the host of a TV variety show? How could I dress in hip clothes on a budget of newspaper and babysitting money?

Walking is still my go-to method for clearing my head. Years ago when my younger sister was dying of cancer and the doctors took the family aside to say it wouldn’t be much longer, my sister-in-law grabbed my arm and we made lap upon lap around the hospital corridors, clutching Kleenex and talking or staying silent in our grief.

We are, as Garrison Keillor might say, a walking people. A couple of times a week 80-year-old Uncle Ted walks a little more than a mile one way to the gas station in the middle of their town to gather with the unofficial town council, men who discuss the world’s situation over multiple cups of coffee, sometimes coming up with solutions, but mostly not — otherwise, there would be no reason for more meetings.

When I was working full time I took the bus to my job, the bus stop about a half-mile from the front door. It was a nice transition in the morning. I didn’t arrive too fast to my desk — sort of like a deep-sea diver coming up slowly to avoid getting the bends. In the evening the walk was a good way to forget all the day’s worries, unless of course I was running late and had to make a mad dash to catch my ride.

My neighborhood is perfect for walking. Lots of people are out with their dogs; like the biker-looking dude who should have a Doberman on his leash but instead it’s a tiny terrier named Tator, or the woman who must be a professional dog walker what with all her charges. There are alleys perfect for checking out backyard flowerbeds and listening to gurgling water fountains.

You never know what to expect when heading out on a walk. Sometimes I run into people I haven’t seen in forever and we stand for a few minutes catching up. One evening I was strolling and caught the sound of a garage band practicing “Mustang Sally.” I checked to see that I was alone in the alley before gyrating a little to the music before moving on.

I went on Amazon.com a few days ago and ordered a pedometer to start my trek. As soon as it arrives I’m planning to give cousin Eddie a run for his money.

— Nancy Luse writes from Frederick, Md., and can be reached at nluse@verizon.net.

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