Walking

The rain held off enough this morning and my son didn’t have to go to school, so I was able to walk to work.  This roughly one and a half miles is along a narrow two lane road with no shoulders, and with the forest right up to its edges.  As I walked I could see new blooms of trillium, evergreen violets, miner’s lettuce, and salmon berries, the beginnings of sea-foam, the bright green of new growth on all the moss.  

I’ve had interesting experiences over the years of walking to work.  Once I stomped angrily down the road yelling at a cougar to get home because I thought it was our Boxer out on the road.  Once the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in all their infinite wisdom, released a pack of bear dogs on a black bear without checking the road, where my husband and I were walking.  It was a terrifying few moments when an equally terrified bear was caught between dogs and humans.  And once my son and I were interviewed by the Seattle Times and ended up with our photo on the front page in an article about alternatives to driving to work.  That was really strange.

But the thing about these walks that make them so vital to me, and that I have missed, is that they allow my mind to break free from responsibilities, chores, and worries.  I’m allowed to ‘daydream’ my stories and sink into the world of a current work in progress.  Right now I am working on a story that is completely different from anything else I have ever written.  I’m writing it for myself because it’s a story I want to read, not because I think this one will go anywhere.  In a way it’s a path back into the writing world because there isn’t the pressure that exists with writing something to send out to agents.  Even though there isn’t that expectation I still am plotting, building characters, and living in a story world.  The walk this morning allowed me to see where a certain character needed to be headed.  I had her going off in the wrong direction, and the story was starting to pile up against that route.  With the soothing rhythm of walking I was able to see where she needs to actually be and how the rest of the problems will then fall in line.

This has happened before when I’ve been stuck in a particular story.  But until this morning I’d forgotten how vital a walk in the woods can be.  It makes me thankful that the energy levels have come back, that the weather is improving (although I walk in bad weather, too), and that the end of the school year and carpooling to the city is in sight.  I am looking forward to many walks to come.  And many daydreams.

4 thoughts on “Walking

  1. You’re right, and I’m lucky to live in an area where I can walk. So many places these days don’t seem built for pedestrians. Have you read a book called ‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Bill Bryson? There’s a hilarious section that, while funny, was very true and very sad, about his trying to walk through a city, when the directions had been given to him on the assumption that he was in a car rather than on foot. Plus I don’t think we were meant to walk on pavement. There’s something about traversing uneven ground, stepping over tree roots, slopping through mud, uneven walking side to side and up and down, that seems to loosen everything up so much more than just walking down a sidewalk. But maybe that’s my imagination.

    • I feel like I’ve heard good things about that book from other sources too. I’ll add it to my (lengthy) to-read list. 🙂

      I got back on the trails yesterday after months of only concrete, and my legs and feet were so excited to be on dirt once more. 🙂

  2. This was luscious reading!

    I’ve had a tense couple of weeks– fixing (I hope) a story that had been put to the side for weeks for lack of ideas and time, fighting writer’s block on an article/post that I couldn’t control the facts of and so really had to get right, aggravating personal stuff, etc. It’s great that I’ve come to this post after walking for hours yesterday and rediscovering how much I love it, even though most of the convenient places where I can walk are on my big city’s concrete sidewalks. I’d love to be able to walk your route. (Except for the terrifying moments! Glad you made it through those!)

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