Look Away

No, really. Look away. Do not look directly at this activity, or I might freak out or go all goofy and wobbly, and then quit. Again.

Don't tell anyone ... but I've been walking! Shhhhh!

Most days, and on a longish path, and most of it uphill.

Those stories grandfathers tell? About its being uphill both ways in the dead of winter and winter lasted all year long and the school was ten miles away? Okay, those stories might be exaggeration, but I'm telling the truth. The long part of it is up up up hill - so I'm counting that part as stronger exercise.

And here's the crazy part.

I've found out that I can't get my butt out the door if it's "exercise" at all! This has been going on - this walking thing on most days lately - for awhile, and it's been happening every time I ask myself, "What do I really want to do?" I've been remembering the hill up from the Hollywood District in Portland - up from the library - uphill, with an armload of books - up, up, up, back to our house at the top of that incline - up on Laddington Court.

When I was a skinny kid, I barely even factored that hill into my estimation of how much effort it was going to be to get to the library and back. If I remember correctly, I nearly never took anything to carry all those books in, either. I pre-date the Child As Turtle, ubiquitous backpack era. I just carried those books in my own arms, with the one I wanted to look at on top, open - so I could read it while I hoofed up that hill. (I've done that as an adult, too - read and walked at the same time, I mean - but don't tell my kids. They don't approve of this dual activity and are quite sure I'm going to fall or walk into something or get hit by something or ... something.)

Curious things happen on walks. I don't take music or other earbud-necessitating distractions. I do take a pad of paper and a pen, though. And my cell phone. Those things ride along in my pockets, and I carry the mail home in a small pack if I've walked to the post office. There's nothing to keep me from noticing the curiosities around me. That's my point.

So ... this week ... I've met my new neighbor, and I've been watching for the shivering buds in trees and shrubs to poke their little green heads out, because that would mean Spring has probably come to stay for awhile, and I've been considering making a phone call to city hall or the county road department or whoever it is that could be talked into moving the speed limit signs a little further uphill because it's scary to walk past 45mph traffic, even if "traffic" is one or two vehicles in an hour. I've noticed that I'm stronger than I've been in a long, long time. That I stop less to catch my breath than I used to. I think I've figured out what bird makes those crazy noises. I've decided again that I really like Buff Orpingtons. I want some. They're very friendly.

And today, I found out where the deer path goes through the property. There are five of them in this group - two does and three fawns, and one of the fawns is in pretty bad shape. It looks like it was probably hit by a car and then healed on its own. I got very very close to them today when they were crossing the road just as I got there.

They looked at me looking at them for a long time.

Curious things happen on their walks too, I guess. But it's not polite to look at them too closely. They freak out and go all goofy and hide.


Donna said...


Missy Hempe said...

I "need" to be walking too. My counselor made me sign a document saying I would not diet anymore since I go to extremes, and I know walking would be good for me. But how are you talking to yourself before walking? What do you tell yourself? Is it something I can copy? Because I HATE EXERCISE!!

Stephanie said...

I've decided that walking isn't "exercise," and that I'm not "lazy" if I don't do it. The word "should" is not allowed either. Honestly, I ask myself, "What do I want?"

That's really all it took. I don't tell myself I want a slimmer body. (I do want that.) I don't tell myself there are a thousand ailments that could be avoided if I were in better shape. (There are probably even more than that.) Instead, I ask myself, "What do I want?"

And what I want is the free feeling of walking and walking and walking. Walking joins the left and right hemispheres in the brain. Walking is very good for writers. Walking brings me back to myself, and I have to take a pen and pad so I can stop and write down the stuff that comes into my head.

I also noticed something last week. Whenever I stop to look more closely at the way spring is taunting the shrubs and flowers around here, causing the promise of buds, but no actual buds ... or notice some bug or cloud or rock (or herd of deer!) ... all of the shortness of breath from hoofing it uphill goes away.

What do I want? Refreshment. A break from confinement. Freedom of really seriously long strides. I used to walk and walk and walk and never get tired. I want that again. And I loathe exercise.