“There they go just a walkin’ down the street, singing Doo Wa Diddy.”
by Manfred Mann
A few years ago, maybe four or five, Shirley and I took to the asphalt. Walking’s been a good thing, increasing endorphins, building endurance as we watch seasons change and occasionally solve world problems. I doubt if either of us has lost a single pound, but we’ve covered a lot of ground.
Starting off, we headed toward Joe Shelton’s cabin, about 4 miles. After two weeks neither of us could move. Shirley’s doctor prescribed orthotics and my chiropractor chastised, “You don’t start with four miles. You start slow with one-quarter of a mile and work up.”
Why, a quarter of a mile wouldn’t get us down the driveway in the Prairie. So we cut back to two miles and sped up. There are only two rules. We don’t walk in the rain, and we don’t walk below 30 degrees. Otherwise, we walk.
Soon, other walkers joined in. We walk in pairs because it’s safer in traffic. Then, after E. H. almost got hit by a speeding pickup truck with “beef” on the front, we took to wearing neon orange safety apparel. It’s especially wise now as there are hunters lurking in the nearby woods. We regularly see deer crossing the roads or watching shyly from the fields, or standing camouflaged by bark and leaves.
For a couple of weeks last summer, a road crew worked out here. The first time we rounded the curve all decked out in safety orange, the road crew thought reinforcements had arrived. With some waves and hellos we marched on, looking like walking, talking orange cones.
A couple of weeks ago Sam took up walking. He goes his own way, not wanting to horn in on our “girl talk.” He suits up in safety orange and grabs a garbage bag.
Sam walks farther and on the way back he picks up roadside trash. In an interesting turn of events, neighbors stop to chat, strangers stop and commend his efforts, while others offer to dispose of his trash collections. Now he leaves a full bag beside the road and someone comes along and picks it up. In his few weeks of trash collection, he reports eight bags filled.
These are some of his findings: Bic lighters, Royal Crown Cola bottles, Coke and Dr. Pepper cans and bottles, the “lites” Miller and Bud, plastic water bottles, a broken “cheap” pair of sunglasses, an aluminum “L” bracket, Styrofoam cups and carry-out plates, a rusty oil filter, a soggy wet air filter, a useful tow chain missing one hook that he brought home, and an orange triangle like truckers use on the roadsides. The triangle was missing the stand, but Sam found the stand the following day.
Besides finding things he sees regular passersby, like the red and white 1982 Ford 150 on its way to work. He says he recognizes the familiar sound long before he sees the truck.