It is both touching and comical the reactions I am receiving as I walk everywhere instead of driving. Granted, my decision to do so was forced upon me. While I have long been an advocate of either walking or pedal-pushing when and where possible, I confess, I have put off this commitment to lower my carbon footprint to the extreme for quite some time now. Granted, I don’t live in a city where everything is within a safe walking distance. Nor do we have a decent public transit system for those out-of-the-way places next to impossible to walk to. I live in a rural community that has a few sidewalks plunked down at random but they do not connect the whole demographic area; much of my travels lately have been in the breakdown lane of a major interstate. So, yes, it is a little hairy at times. Thank goodness for fluorescent vests and flashlights for twilight travels after work.
First, the humorous side of it all. “You walk to work?” “You walked all the way from there to go to church?” Etc, etc. My home is in the 200 “block” of this interstate; my job is in the 500 “block”. I have “block” in quotation marks because these are not evenly-planned residential areas but a patchwork of farms amidst a few cul-de-sacs of houses leading up to a small commercial district. My trek each way is just under two miles. It takes me about 25-30 minutes to walk it downhill to work; an extra five minutes for the steeply-uphill climb to home. Church is about half the walking distance and definitely not as uphill. All-in-all, it’s not a bad walk…even if it is in the breakdown lane. It makes me laugh because we have become so dependent on our automobiles that the thought of walking, or riding a bicycle, less than two miles seems like the greatest imposition to many. Granted, for someone like my mother, who is in her 70’s, such a trek is a bit too much. She tried it one Saturday while I was at work. She said the walk down wasn’t so bad but she needed a ride back home!
Of course, Mom is part of that humor, too. Having christened her “Nervous Nellie”, she hovers and flutters about when, like yesterday, the rain was falling steady and she saw me gearing up to walk again. It wasn’t until I pulled out the umbrella that she calmed down a bit. Oy vey! I feel like I’m 15 again instead of 50 (now if only my hips, shins, calves and knees felt the same way…)
And yet, Mom’s actions are also touching as I come around that last bend in the road and see her and Max, the Blue Heeler, waiting for me at the foot of the drive, watching anxiously to make sure I get home okay.
Touching, too, has been some of the reactions from friends and co-workers along the way. Halfway to work yesterday afternoon, one of our mechanics saw me walking–and thoroughly soaked–and offered me a ride the last 1/2 mile or so. It was much appreciated as the wind kept kicking up and blowing me about like Mary Poppins on steroids. And then yesterday’s rain storm intensified during the late-afternoon, early-evening. By the time I left to come home again, it was pouring buckets. One of my co-workers saw me gearing up and actually told me I was NOT walking home in this. However, while I appreciated the offer, and the concern, knowing I had to make a stop along the way, I didn’t want to put him out and finally convinced him I would be okay. And I was. But it warmed my heart nonetheless. Chivalry is not dead. And it is good to see it, to know it. And to know people do care.
Yesterday’s rain taught me something else, too: bring a change of clothes. Walking in the breakdown lane with traffic, and especially 18-wheelers, whizzing by leaves you soaked to the gills. I suppose I should bring gratitude into the mix that it is late-May and not early-January.
May God bless you & keep you!