On mornings when I’m not working away from home, around 7:50, our dog Lydia begins her bark that usually announces just about anything that moves in our vicinity.
I’m getting used to what this particular time implies – our new neighbor, Tony, is walking to work.
After walking the long way up the highway for a while, he asked if we’d mind if he took a short cut across our “back forty”. Of course, we didn’t mind. So on workdays, armed with walking stick and clad in high rubber boots, he strolls up our driveway, across our lawn at the far end of the property, and cuts through the thicket of underbrush that’s gone rampant in the swampy low area between our place and the greenhouse where he works.
One morning, hearing Lydia’s bark, I took a quick look outside to make sure it was indeed Tony, and not someone I’d need to go to the door for. It struck me: What a wonderful thing it is to be able to walk to work. Soaring fuel prices make the prospect so attractive, and a family can possibly get by with one car (oh, the savings on insurance and maintenance).
I thought about other advantages.
The stress of having to drive anywhere these days takes something out of me. You never know what other drivers are going to do (or not do). I never know what I may do behind the wheel either (take this as a warning), digging in my purse on a last minute search for that one thing I may have forgotten while it’s not too late to turn around and get whatever it is: my cellphone, a bill, a different color of lipstick than my usual, or, maybe a bag containing a purchase we need to return.
(About that cell phone issue: I complain when others seem more intent on their
phone conversations than their driving, yet, when mine rings, I now take calls without pulling off the road. Add yet another double standard to the growing list of my own shameful behavior.)
A walk to work could whittle down to size those mundane guilts and stresses we often create for ourselves. With time to actually look at the things you pass, you can let your mind drift without worrying about remembering your turn signal.
This means Tony may have time to wonder why I don’t take better care of my new swing when I forget to take in its cushion on rainy days. He might notice that I left the
laundry on the line overnight (my grandmother would have considered this a sin) that night I didn’t arrive back home until 10 p.m. and decided I was not taking laundry down in
I hope Tony looks instead at the beautiful colors of the wildflowers and weeds that are their most beautiful just before fall. I hope he is listening to the crickets and cicadas, a sound magnified at this time of year which I always associate with going back to school. Did he see the spider webs that glisten with dew in the early morning sun? Was he watching the grasshoppers, so prolific in our lawn, jump out of his way ? At least he could breathe in the cool morning air and pretend to save it to counter the heat of afternoon.
I feel the quiet calm of his walk (Lydia’s barking aside) and wish we could all enjoy this laid back way of getting to work. If I get out there, like the bear going over the mountain, and see what I can see, maybe all the worries of cars and gas, appointments and commitments, errands and work will all fade into the sunset.
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