Reflections on Walking

I have always found walking to be therapeutic and relaxing. It all started when I was in junior high and lived on the farm that my great grandfather built. Mom loved to walk, and she always tried very hard to get one of us kids to go with her. We walked the pastures during the winter when the rattle snakes were hibernating, and we walked the country roads and oil lease roads the rest of the time. We talked about everything.

When I was in high school, I continued the long walks with my best friend. Granted, the town of Jetmore, KS is only about four miles long, but we would walk back and forth on our nightly walks and usually end up in his basement where there was always an ongoing game of Risk. We also liked to climb the big hill in front of my home in the country and relax on our backs and look at the stars. We'd look down at the pasture below where we had trespassed and parked his black Trans Am. Sometimes it was so dark that when we were ready to leave we couldn't find the midnight black car until we had almost stumbled on it. Up there on the hill we would watch the stars and talk about our hopes, dreams, challenges, fears, etc.

After high school, I found myself going on nightly walks when I was in college in the twin cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul). Often, other friends would want to join. Around 10:00 p.m., I would lead a small exodus of warmly dressed buddies off the campus of the College of St. Thomas, and we would explore the charming neighborhoods. We were totally bundled against the cold, Minnesota night. It was my first time away from home, and I had moved several states away. I remember that the sound of the wind chimes on the porches was particularly comforting to me and made me feel less homesick.

Recently, I find myself walking through the neighborhoods of San Francisco. When I walk through the neighborhoods in the early evening, I see the husbands and wives coming home, the kids putting up their bikes for the night, and I hear the clinking of silverware and dishes that signal dinner is on the way. I hear music, smell BBQ, and feel the beginnings of the cold night air start to touch my face.

In the mornings when I walk in the Mission district, I see the store owners unlocking the bars on the doors, sweeping up the sidewalks, and making fresh coffee which tempts everyone as they walk past the open doors and smell the aroma. Parents are waiting at the bus stop to get their kids off to another day of school, construction workers are putting out their orange cones, the stoops have women and men in their pajamas having their first cigarette of the day, and there is a freshness to everything that signals a new day with unlimited possibilities.

Saturday morning walks are particularly sacred because nobody is in hurry. Many people are still asleep, and those that are awake are packing their cars for a weekend camping trip or short day trip outside the city. Released from school for the day, the kids are biking, skateboarding, roller skating, and using their sidewalk chalk to draw creative murals. Saturday mornings are a festive time. It seems like the whole city just takes a collective sigh of relief that the work week is over and now it is time to play.

My boyfriend and I have now begun what we affectionately call "Old People Sundays." We get up early on a Sunday morning and walk the city for about five to six hours. Along the way, we stop in the stores that interest us and get brunch. It is great.

Well, it's time for me to walk back to the loft on this Saturday morning. So relaxed!