New snow fell over the weekend, and with it came some simple realizations:
1. Snow-covered tree branches are in the top three of my all time favorite things.
2. Walks might be my number one.
Ironically enough, I was driving down a snowy street (ridiculously slow mind you), when I saw my friend Jack walking his two dogs. I stopped, rolled down my window, and hollered greetings at him (like any good neighbor would), and then continued on my way after we exchanged the proper number of pleasantries. And then I got really jealous about his walk. And then I realized how much I love walks. Which was followed by the thought that my favorite way to see any place - whether new or well known - is by foot. I am always down for a walking tour of a city.
As I turned the corner, I was suddenly in a corridor of snow-covered trees, and I was overcome with the desire to pull over my Toyota, hop out, and explore this place with my feet. Walks emcompass so much for me. Walks are incredibly romantic: I consider a walk as much a love poem as an actual love poem. I love taking walks as a way to mark seasonal shifts. Crunchy leaves underfoot, pink petals lining the sidewalk, the smell of lilacs perfuming the air, slick ice causing me to be extra careful. I like walking and talking with friends just as much as I like walking quietly with another person. I like creeping through back alleyways and peeking over fences at gardens. I will never find speed walking pleasurable or understandable. I wander, meander, mosey, and - very rarely & briefly - skip.
And I especially like seeing a familiar place in a new way.
Take for instance, another great walk related moment from this weekend.
My friend and I were babysitting the adorable three-year-old twins of another friend of ours. The kids ended up being delightful, but the new puppy was a royal terror. After his second pee on the carpet, I told my friend to stay put while I took Harris for a long walk. It was 10:30pm, the night was very dark and very cold, and I was in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Or, at least, unfamiliar in these particular conditions.
I have never owned a dog and didn't grow up with one, so besides the occassional dog walk with a friend, this was a new experience for me. This was definitely my very first evening-alone-with-a-pup walk.
At first, with Harris tugging me along, and a few near spills on invisible patches of ice, I found myself grumbling about the burdens of dog ownership. It was cold, Harris was being a bit annoying, and I wasn't sure I felt totally safe. Yet, something urged me on: perhaps my strong desire to wear Harris out and avoid another accident, perhaps my equally strong desire to get past my discomfort and into a place of enjoying this unknown ritual.
And what do you know? As Harris started to tire out a little and tug at me less, I started to see the walk in a totally different way. Suddenly we were on a street that was familiar to me. Soon we were passing a hardware store, garden shop, ice cream place, and bakery that I had frequented a few years back when I lived closer to this part of the city.
It looked so different in this light, with a dog by my side. I was intrigued. I looked up at the sky, and saw beautiful moon-light-lined clouds moving fast. I suddenly was a lot less cold and in a lot less of a hurry.
I realized that this walk, this moment with Harris in this familiar yet unfamiliar place, was unique. Perhaps what I was really experiencing was the realization of the brevity of life, and the singular nature of every single moment in time. The nature of time itself. This Saturday in January of 2013 walking with Harris the dog would never happen again, and no walk would ever be just like this walk. Suddenly I understood the benefit of dog ownership.
Ahh, the philosophy of the walk. The deep/not-so-deep musings of the walker. This thought-pattern is comforting and familiar! And probably part of why I love walks!
Each walk is a little adventure, at its best allowing us to see our world with fresh eyes,