I am a walker, and have been from the time I started Junior High and was forced to trek home daily the mile and a half from school. That’s quite a hike for a 13 year old kid who’d never walked much before. I would complain to my parents, who both worked – necessitating the walk – but to no avail. Sometimes I would sneak on a friend’s bus, pretending I was going to her house after school, then walk the 5 minutes home. I never could figure out why she got to take the bus, when she lived just the other side of the main arterial. But anyway…
Fast forward several years. My husband – then boyfriend – took me to a nature refuge near our (then) homes, and the experience changed my life. I discovered not only a passion for the natural world, but a love of walking that I’d never known before. I began walking everywhere, whenever time afforded. I couldn’t get up early enough to walk the 4 miles to work, but I walked home nearly every night. Even during pregnancy – there I was, humpty dumpty in a business suit, stocking’ed feet stuck into two tennis shoes, heels in a bag at my side. I thought when I walked, about life and love, and everything else. Those walks set me right on the path to labor, and I often described the birth process just like a walk home, with a finite start, middle and end. Walking kept me in shape, despite having gained FIFTY POUNDS that first pregnancy, and after my daughter was born, I walked all the more. No longer tied to a work schedule, I would walk into town to meet my husband for lunch, our daughter strapped to my chest. And when she got too big to carry, I’d push her in her stroller. Everywhere.
As my daughter grew, and then became a sister, we continued walking as a family. It was customary for us to return to that same nature refuge for an hour-long walk, with the dog – of course. Our children (dog included) grew up there at the refuge, and thought nothing of a 4-mile walk several times a week, daily when the weather would permit. From there the love of walking grew, to the point that, in the summer of 2008, when gas prices soared to untenable heights for our 1-income family, I banished driving during the week altogether. Living in Philadelphia, a walkers paradise, it was easy. We got groceries at the nearest supermarket, roughly 15 minutes away, and pushed everything home in our portable shopping cart. When we needed to go into town, we’d walk. There and back, about 8 miles. Or, if we wanted to go the zoo, or the park, or the…. People were always amazed that my children would walk willingly, without complaint, without fatigue, but they’d never known anything different.
Since moving to Maine, we’ve kept up our walking. Back when we lived in a 2-bedroom apartment, before buying our house, my husband had to commute using our car. So I got to know Portland by foot. It was wonderful, and I believe, the best way of getting to know a new city. There’s something incredibly intimate about walking streets that gets lost inside a car, or even when bicycling. You take in every inch, literally, on your heels, and the dust and the scents and the presence of every mile you walk stays with you.
After moving from the apartment to our new (olde) house, our walking has gotten even better. Because now, for the first time in our lives, we have the ability to walk in nature without having to drive anywhere. As many times a week as we are able – often daily, we leave the house to walk down the street to the head of the Fore River Sanctuary, one of 30 trails maintained by Portland Trails. We walk back though the woods, over the marsh, and alongside and over the Fore River, and then loop back up to our house. It’s beautiful. We’ve seen deer, hawks, heron, even an owl – and never had to set foot in a car.
So why all this talk about walking?! Because I just found out about this: Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5K. The folks who created and support WordPress (this blog platform) are WILD about fitness and have proposed a worldwide 5K on April 10th. They’re encouraging anyone interested to participate – and then blog all about it. Blogging and programming can be pretty sedentary activities, after all, so what better way to get active and stay fit than by this suggestion? I for one think it’s a wonderful idea and am ON BOARD. So for now, think of this post as my warm up. And for everyone reading — HOW ABOUT YOU, TOO?