Walking

Well, I should apologize about the long delay between posts here. Sorry!

I have been keeping up with my reading blog, so be sure to check out that page for some reading ideas.

I’ve been writing short nonfiction pieces about my earliest memories of fishing, and what I thought were stories about fishing might be turning more into stories about fathers and sons, my relationship with my father and my relationship with my son, through the lens of fishing. We’ll see where it leads. Right now I’m just having fun with it and writing these pieces for the sake of writing them, with my father and my son being the primary audience.

Since the pandemic, I’ve been walking a lot, which led to me thinking about walking, and reading about walking, and dreaming of walks I want to take, which led to me writing this poem…

Walking

As I think about the walks I want to take

I think about the walks that I have taken

I don’t remember my first steps – I don’t know that story

But I do know that the first time I sat up on my own was at the beach in Wading River

And I fell right over

I remember walking down the block with a fishing pole in my hand

Walking to my elementary school with my neighbors who were older

Not finding them after school one day and being terrified – I can’t remember how I got home

In middle school we were too excited to walk

We ran

Or rode around on our bikes and skateboards

In high school we were too cool to walk

We drove

But we drove to the mall and walked around there

Or to the beach, where we walked up and down the Fort Lauderdale strip with college kids on spring break

Or up to Jupiter, Jonathan Dickinson State Park, where we camped out for the first time and walked on a gravel road with the stars wheeling around us

In college I didn’t need a car, got dropped off in Tallahassee and walked around campus from class to class

Up and down the halls of my dorm

And off campus from party to party

We graduated from camping to backpacking

That first trip on the Florida Trail through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness

A second trip on the Appalachian Trail through Smoky Mountain National Park

I graduated from college and picked Eugene, Oregon out on a map

One hour to the coast, one hour to the mountains, two hours to the city

I drove across the country and bought self-published guide books by William Sullivan

Spent years walking the wild places of Oregon

By myself, with friends, with girlfriends

With the girlfriend who became a friend who became my fiancé

We walked down the aisle at Mount Pisgah Arboretum

Along the beaches of Lincoln City and Negril, Jamaica

And then we were pushing strollers down Arthur Street

To 18th Avenue

And the Root Beer Store around the corner

We traded in our backpacks for kid carriers

And taught our kids how to play with rocks and sticks

But had a hard time getting too far from the car

Most of my walking happened at Cal Young Middle School

And South Eugene High School

And it took a global pandemic for me to find my stride again

My own little irony: COVID made me healthier

My doctor said so

When there was nowhere to go, I walked from my front door

To these woods I know

Down Corinthian Court to City View, up Terrace View to Melvin Miller

That first spring and into summer, through fall and winter and another spring and summer

Walking got me thinking about walking

I found myself reading about walking

And now I think about the walks I want to take:

A Willamette Valley wine country walk with my wife over winter break

A San Francisco solo over spring break, across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands and Stinson Beach

I want to backpack the Oregon Coast Trail, 400 miles from Astoria to Brookings

I want to pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, 500 miles through the heart of Spain

I want to saunter from inn to inn across England and New England, Australia and New Zealand

I want to walk until I’m too old to walk

Maybe trade in my hiking poles for a cane or a walker

I don’t know what my last walk will be – I don’t know that story

But hopefully the last time I sit up on my own will be at the beach

By the ocean or a river

And I will fall right over

And dream of one last walk

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