I confess. I have an addiction. Every evening after supper I go for a walk. I love my walks. Walking reminds of my paternal grandfather, who every night after supper insisted on taking his constitutional. He would walk around his neighborhood for about a half an hour, meeting and greeting, showing off us grandkids when we came to visit. I suspect he was cadging drinks from his cronies, but we were too young to notice. He always had a nice pink glow on his cheeks when we got home. Sure, it could have been the walk.
Notice I said I love my walks. Not I love to walk.
The first half block feels GOOD. Then it’s pain every step of the way. Arthritis in my back; hips and lower back strained by previously damaged muscle tissues; varicose veins make my legs hurt in various random and moving places from the thigh all the way down including behind my knees; ears that hurt for no explainable reason; the tongue burning increases the longer I go; wildly spiking or dully aching headaches that come and go; and then there’s the ankles.
I discovered when I was five and entered first grade my ankles were not user friendly. At recess when we would run and play my ankles would twist underneath me and down I’d go. When I played softball with my siblings and the neighborhood kids we had a rule: I would hit the ball because I was a damn good hitter, and one of the siblings would run for me because I was a real bad runner. I would fall over. Falling disrupted the game. We got to make this rule because we played in our yard; none of the other kids had yards big enough. As we started to learn organized games like softball, kickball, and field hockey I never knew when I was going to suddenly fly ass over teakettle onto the ground. In later grades this kind of un-skill means you never get chosen to play on the team let alone chosen first.
**An Aside:: Curiosity supposedly killed a cat but mine has to be fed. The phrase “ ass over teakettle” is a British version of “head over heels” topsy-turvy”, or “in confusion”. Interesting variations include “ass over appetite”, “ass over tit”, “ass over applecart”, and “ass over endways”. Funny thing is, as well as describing the general physical clumsiness I experience it seems to pertain also to the way I read; upside down, topsy-turvy reversed letters and sentences, in confusion until the con/text reveals the meaning. I wonder if there has been a study done measuring the physical coordination of dyslexics against their reading ability. I doubt they would blame it on nutrition, but my guess is that’s the root of the problem, like most other physical and mental issues people get to have. I’ll have to ask my reference librarian.::**
If you regularly fall when you attempt to move your body in average normal ways soon you dislike moving your body. When you experience bullying, shaming, and derision about the way your body doesn’t cooperate, over which you have no control, after a while you are disinclined to participate. Books were my friends; I didn’t have to move because I was studying. The books didn’t talk back and I could look at the sentences as many times as I needed to make sense and nobody was the wiser.
We had “P.E.” back then, but it had no sort of science behind it like the physical education kids get these days. Teachers now get degrees in physical sciences. In one of the volunteering jobs I did for my son’s third grade class the teacher explained how to move their bodies for the best efficiency, for speed, and so as not to hurt yourself while running. I’d never heard of a method for running or walking and thanked her profusely after the class. I’m sure she thought I was some gooney old lady babbling on about “they never taught us anything like that when I was young”.
I love my walks. Because I fear falling – I don’t like to fall – I am the tortoise. Koo koo kachoo. I am slow and steady, carefully watching every step. The semi-rural town I live in still enjoys relatively clean, fresh, and refreshing air, usually only polluted by artificially scented dryer sheets or a dirty chimney. Occasionally a breeze will bring the sweet smell of hay and manure from the farmlands just outside town limits.
Every day I get to admire my neighbor’s yards, gardens, and homes. Sometimes at dusk when families have their lights on and curtains still open, I can be nosy/curious and enjoy glimpses of the rooms and brief moments of another family’s life. Our little burg permits chickens inside city limits, and I especially admire the yards that support chickens. The new trend I’m seeing is front yard edible landscaping. Delightful! Food in the front yard and less support to the lawn industry. Yes, real food begins at home and can be supported in small spaces.
When I get home each night from my thirty minute walk, regardless of the weather, my cheeks are pink. No cronies to meet and greet. Fresh air, flat surfaces, well lighted areas, slow and steady. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. I’m grateful to still be able move it every step of the way.