Wednesday, March 12, 2008

These Boots are Made for Walking

or, perhaps I should say these chacos are made for walking...

About a year and a half ago, our family moved from a house on the outskirts of town to a place right smack-dab in the middle of our community. We live directly behind the city high school, and that's about as centrally located as it gets. Our friends who live in big cities scoffed at our complaints about the "long commute" into town, but that extra 15 minutes (one-way) really did add up to a lot of time over the course of the week---especially in a town where the pace of life doesn't really include padding for a commute.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, the change for us has been fantastic. We live less than one mile from the library, grocery store, church building and MG's work, which means a whole lot more time at home and a whole lot less time sitting at fast food restaurants. For MG, it means a fraction of the time spent on the road. For me and the Little Guy, it means we hit the road the old-fashioned way: on foot. (Okay, and in jogging stroller, although that is not so old-fashioned.)

I began to embrace the habit of walking on daily errands when I spent 2 months in Antigua last year as we completed John Mark's adoption. A stroller wasn't even feasible on the cobblestone streets there, so I would put him in the sling and set out on foot to sightsee, grocery shop, meet up with friends, whatever my agenda held for the day. At times, it was a huge hassle (read: crying baby plus poopy diaper plus hungry mama plus sacks of groceries plus big scary buses running you off the road), but, on the whole, it was a blessed change of pace for me. On several of those walks through town, my roommates and I talked about how we couldn't imagine going back to driving--by necessity--to accomplish even the simplest errand.

I have been eagerly awaiting Spring's arrival, just so we would have the opportunity to get out the stroller and enjoy some fresh air after a long, dreary winter. For one thing, I have a few Christmas pounds I still need to shed. For another, I get some satisfaction in knowing that at least I am doing a little-bitty something to help limit pollution. However, I've found that going on foot has a couple of other nice benefits that I'm beginning to appreciate...

For one thing, I get out into the communities where people live, not just where they drive. Jonesboro is not too pedestrian-friendly, so I try to take residential streets mostly, where there is usually a sidewalk, or at least the traffic is sparse enough to be aware of us. Yesterday we strolled over to visit a friend who lives nearby, and I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful tree that was just starting to bloom. Just as I snapped the picture, the owner of the tree (and house nearby) pulled up into her driveway and stopped to chat. She told me that the tree was a star magnolia and how much she looked forward to it blooming every spring. That 2-minute interaction was a bright spot in my day. We also got to see our neighbors working in their yards, walking their dogs and tackling some home-improvement projects.

The greatest benefit for me is that I find joy in the "doing" of the errand, not just the completing of it. For instance, we needed a couple of things from the store on Monday--things that I had forgotten to get on my big shopping trip but that I had to have for supper. Normally, I loathe that kind of trip because it involves putting my kid in the car and then getting him out of the car, which takes more time than the actual shopping. On Monday, however, we just strolled on over to the grocery and had a ball. We stopped to admire every dog or cat along the way, we watched the birds hopping and flapping, we saw the big guys at soccer practice doing their drills and called "hey, heeeeeeey!" to every passing car. It was plain ol' fun.

Now, I am going to need someone to remind me of all this joy and fun and profound meaning when it is about 104 degrees up in here. I think, at that point, we may do all our walking during the hours of 9pm and 4am.


Jenn said...

I took an extra long shower last night (actually it's just good that I even got a shower for me) and busted out the razor and foot/leg scrub. After the GREAT shower, used the foot lotion and yes, got out the nail polish!! Today, my feet are in Teva shape, baby and we are off to WALK to the park and to WALK to pick up Grace from school.
I'm so thankful for spring weather...How about the picture of the tree?? It sounds beautiful!

Danna Ramsey said...

Let me just tell you, Ash, you are totally doing a bang-up job in our running class. I'm so impressed with you! Be patient with me, I'm kind of a slug, but know that you are a huge motivator.