In praise of a good walk

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Foster Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Foster Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Sure it was raining this morning. Not hard, though.

But I slipped on my Gore-Tex jacket over a sweatshirt and headed for Foster Park.

Yes, it’s spring – early April. Still, if the temperature dipped much lower, I might have found patches of ice on my way to the park. No problem with ice. I would have attached spikes to my running shoes.

In truth, I’m done with jogging. Not only the stress fracture on my left heel. Walking briskly doesn’t bother that. Besides, my balance isn’t so good that I can be sure that I won’t risk a fall. A broken whatever from a fall and I might just be done for.

So I walk. Safer. And I’m more apt to take note of how the woods that line the Maumee River have recently come to life. The trees are starting to bud out like an artist who has just started to sketch background to his canvas.

The sparrows and newly arrived robins greeted me as if they’d been waiting for hours to say “hello.”

Today I was early enough that I only met one other walker. From him, I got a gesture that I took for a greeting. Some people just don’t get fully awake until late morning, if then.

Of course, I’m never completely alone on my four-mile walks. In an earlier incarnation, I taught literature in high school and college. Through the works of the greats, I join other dedicated walkers such as William Wordsworth and Franz Kafka. Yes, I include Thoreau and Dickens, who thought it nothing to cover 30-miles a day. Virginia Woolf was another committed walker.

I guess the example of such luminaries sufficed for Apple’s creator Steve Jobs. He conducted staff meetings on long walks. Early in the day, I’m usually by myself, although my wife Toni sometimes joins me. Mid-morning I might be greeted by “the guys,” a group of black friends.

A good walk in the park is their ritual, too.

I’m sure my daily routine keeps me reasonably slim. But I’m careful about what I eat anyway: only fish, no pork or beef, lots of fruits and vegetables, rarely dessert.

I truly enjoy the daily walk. It’s as relaxing as any other hour and a half of the day. I’m sure the walk helps me sleep well, as well as a 77-year-old male is able.

Best of all, walking allows me leave any worries behind. I’m free to celebrate the wonder of the changing seasons. I’m free to be ever so thankful for my marvelous, caring and creative wife. I’m free to be thankful for our interesting, talented family – every member, including a five-year-old named Mayzi.

Snow or sun, rain or shine, it’s hard to beat a good, long walk.

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