Does the word that just popped into your head show up here? Find out:

05 April, 2011

On Foot

Work is about 2.25 miles from where I live, which makes it walkable. Admittedly, this doesn't happen as much in the winter (unless there's snow, which I cannot resist), but now that temps are in the balmy upper 40's, and the rain is not as constant, feet will carry me to work more often. 

Some people set a brisk pace, and would cover the distance in a half hour or less, but my sense slow me down. Watching the pink and green haze of emergent buds causes the legs to swing slow (sweet chariot), maybe even stopping to zoom in and appreciate the unfurling beauty of a fiddlehead. My ears listen to try and find where the thrushes hide, their varied songs imitating creaky hinges and the slightly rusted spring of the old screen door that only opens when grandkids are in town. Nose gathers data: skunk cabbage beginning to emerge, air warming enough to carry the scent of awakening green.

Slower still as my foraging instinct kicks in. Pausing to fill grocery bags with tender young nettle shoots. Scoping the woods for bracken fiddleheads to browse. Noting where the Indian plums and cherries bloom in promise of future fruit. 

I was talking with an anthropologist who studies urban foragers in Seattle, and she said that foragers tend to be walkers. Cars go too fast and demand too much attention of the drivers; they can cover a lot of ground and maybe reveal some likely spots and the most obvious of the un-picked fruit trees. Same goes for the bus, although it has the advantage of letting riders look at the same spots over and over, noticing details after enough time. Bikes are more immediate, no windows in the way, able to slow and veer closer to a promising copse. But walking brings time to it's most human cadence, wandering begets wondering, daydreams played out and plans laid out. Details and discoveries appear to the lone biped that remain veiled to the wheeled.

I get to the destination slower than a driver. Getting to work takes about 40 minutes if I don't stop, compared to around 5 if I drive. Not counting parking and the walk from there to the building, traffic, and of course stopping to let pedestrians cross the road. On the other hand, I decompress and alleviate stress, get some exercise. 

Not driving saves me the cost of running a vehicle and buying gas, and relieves the atmosphere of having to absorb fossil fuel's farts. For a guy like me who doesn't subscribe to a religion, but still enjoys being self-righteous, walking is just the ticket: smile with the self-satisfaction of being green, glare at the cars that don't stop for pedestrians, stuff like that. And if I arrive home with a belly full of berries, maybe something extra for the table, or even just the peacefulness born of shedding work worries during an amble through woods and neighborhoods, so much the better.

No comments:

Post a Comment