An essay on walking from a daily five mile walker and 8 year cancer survivor*
"Walking, I have noticed, is the first thing we want to do and the last thing we are want to give up in our old age. I took my first walk (I am told) with my father at about two years. The story goes we were gone a long time and my patient dad reported to my mom that I investigated every leaf and twig en route. I have been walking ever since.
We walked to play with friends in the neighborhood, we walked to school, we walked to the library and even walked to and from some of our first dates. I learned to love walking from my dad and my grandpa, both walkers all their lives. My dad was inclined toward rural, out of the way dusty country roads for his ambles. My grandpa likes to roam the woods to the north of our family farm. He raised sheep there and the farmland was heavy with nut trees and berries. My summer walks with my grandfather were some of the best to be had.
Over the years I have walked for many reasons. I have walked to sort things out, avoid depression, to make me sleep and to lose weight. They have all worked. Now I walk for the sheer joy of walking. It is my "drug” of choice. I walk the outskirts of town, I walk on the old high school track and I walk the town walk path. I sometimes even walk to Pond Road and rest by the Leaf River (Illinois) bridge and then return. I celebrated my 70th birthday recently with a 7 mile walk.
Going tramping is at first an act of rebellion; only afterwards do you get free from rebellion as nature sweetens your mind. Town can make man contentious; the country walk smooths out the soul. Lots of people have been great walkers. Dickens is said to have walked 25 miles a day! and we know Henry David was a great walker. . .why not, he had Waldon Pond, and Justice Douglas to name just a few...
The changing of the season would be reason enough, even if the health benefits were not there. Autumnal walks, with the russets, yellows and browns and the mists that hang, are nature’s melancholy. Winter walks make you strong my dad would say, as we bundled up on a zero day for walking to school. And they do--the air incredibly pure and sunlight gently caressing your shoulders. Spring walks, perhaps the best, full of hope of a glorious summer ahead. Summer walks, simply put, just hum, I do not mind the heat and find these walks my most rewarding. . . watching children ride bikes, or play in puddles and the exchange of smiles from fellow walkers.
Well, I have gone on enough. . . "I will arise and go now" - William Butler Yeats
Come join me in a walk and have someone say, "You mean-you walked!"
* Lynne Fleming Wilburn