Walking is something I began doing when I lived in New Hampshire. The scenery is really too lovely to ignore although the weather does not always cooperate. It makes those nice days call louder to draw me outdoors.
Now I am in Florida. I like to imagine that I am still walking those New Hampshire back roads when in fact I am stuck walking in a much drearier place. What I am actually doing, compared to what I am thinking, is what follows.
I get dressed. Coolest, sleeveless top I own and capris. It will be hot, and worst of all muggy, before I take one step. Dress in layers because it will be cool, maybe even cold, when I start out, but I will work up a sweat on the hills.
Out the front door onto the level pavement of the long, straight, boring neighborhood road. I may go around the nearest block, but that is only 1/2 mile at best. It depends on the amount of heat I feel. Step outside and breathe in the beautiful, fresh air, as I head up the short driveway to begin my 2 mile walk. No doubts about the length because it’s my usual. I’ve measured it in my car. On a day like this, I could walk much further if my body would let me.
Heading down the road I pass house after house. This November morning is hot, but not oppressive at this hour. I spot lots of shade down the road ahead so I decide to take the longer route. Past my friends home and the trail where I sometimes see deer. I look back to make sure my cats are not trying to follow me. Down the hill I go, past familiar homes on my neighborhood loop. I know some of the people living in these houses. Coming back, that long hill is a killer climb, and I am often out of breath and sweaty as I reach my front yard. Today I won’t be coming back. My mind won’t get that far.
The stopwatch part of my iPhone is on so I can gauge time and help with distance. I know I used to walk 2 miles in 15-20 minutes on hilly roads. Now my walk is totally flat all the way. I should go faster but I am horribly out of shape because I hate walking here. My new way to cope is to think about New Hampshire. Where would I be at this point in my walk? I turn the corner and head to the next block. The homes in my little New Hampshire neighborhood each stand on an acre or more. Many of the homes in my neighborhood are quite large in comparison to my own. I am past the end of my loop and heading onto the main road where the walk gets really nice. Tall trees line both sides of the road with stone walls of course. When the leaves are off the trees I have a good view well into the woods. Soon I will see the white rock and the shortcut trail through the woods which connects this road to another.
Trying to ignore the boringness of driveway after driveway and the long straight road ahead (not to mention the suffocating humidity) I try to remember the cool, crisp air of Fall in New England. I discovered the big white rock in the stone wall on one of my first walks and it became ‘my rock’. Every time I drive or walk past this area I can spot it. Rocks usually stay put for years and years and that is comforting. The rock will surely be there long after I am gone for good. The path through the woods would take me to Union Street and I’ve used it before, when I’ve taken my longer walks, but it can be swampy in places. I see the young trees which are still bent over from last year’s snowstorms.
Not many people are out on this Thursday morning but I do spot a school bus farther down the road. I am thankful I no longer have to ‘do school’. Surely I’ve put in more than my fair share of time with it. I am in the home stretch. As I turn the corner back onto my street I am not sure how far I’ve walked but it really hasn’t been that far. Maybe a mile. I am sweating from the sun more than from exertion, which stinks. I’ve passed the MacDowell Colony big house on the corner. I always step off the side of the road in that area when I hear a car coming because they will not see me easily on that bend. Now the long driveway to the little red shed is on my right and another long sloping upward hill begins. I’m almost halfway through my 2-mile walk, which must end today at the halfway point in my mind.
My Florida house is up ahead. The top of the hill is up ahead.
I walk into my driveway and stand under the southern live oak and palm tree and close my eyes. I have made it to the halfway point – 1 mile. I stand in the shade of big trees at the top of the hill. Another MacDowell Colony house is just beyond the wall. It’s a good spot to drink some water and rest for a moment. I take this time to enjoy the beauty of the place where I live, and then I head back the way I came. I look forward to it.
With a sad heart I walk to the front door where Skittle the Cat comes out from under the bushes to greet me.
It’s not all bad.
In Closing, About the Colony
(I have photos of the MacDowell Colony area, and the road I always walked, but I’m not sure where to locate those photos. The Colony consists of many acres of land with main gathering areas and smaller houses scattered throughout the woods. I could see some of these buildings on my walk. It is a retreat for creative types. They are assured of peace and quiet during their stay and it is a lovely area for that.
It was not uncommon to see someone on the road carrying a picnic basket. The baskets are used to deliver food to the guests. I suspected it was a visiter of the Colony returning the basket. Also a lot of the bike riders I saw were perhaps writers, actors or artists staying in the area. At least that was what I imagined. One summer we heard that Johnny Depp was a guest at MacDowell Colony. I never saw him on my walks. 😉