If when you first visited this little corner of the world wide web, you read my short biography perhaps you ascertained I've done my fair share of Walking. To be clear, this essay pertains more specifically to ambling through woods, forests, and fields. In no way does this distinction devalue a walk through the city; the city is simply a place in which I have little experience Walking.
I was instructed in the art of Walking long before I could walk. Carried in a backpack, I experienced the peace and serenity of a woodland saunter perched high above the forest floor. When I was very small, guided by my Pap, my parents and I foraged for morels in the woods around my grandparent's house. Walking-with-purpose though we were, the excursion was relaxed.
It wasn't until I had my son I recognized the most beneficial aspects of Walking. Walking is a craft. When put into practice enthusiastically and often one masters the skill and little else keeps him or her from neglecting its pursuit. It has been seven years since my son and I began practicing - religiously - the art of Walking. Not a month passes that we do not find time to take a walk in the woods.
What, you may be wondering, constitutes a walk...in other words, how do he & I define Walking?
The art of Walking, recalled in quiet moments, should bring to mind the most leisurely of strolls. Ideally, a lengthy stroll. Hours, during which one is invited to engage with the natural world, infusing to capacity the full complement of his or her senses. As I approach five decades on this blue planet, I cannot accurately recall the rambles of my youth. I do, however, vividly recollect each walk taken with my husband and son. My adult foray into Walking began when I felt the anvil of societal playdate pressure on my head. And so, my five-year-old and I joined a couple of women and their children to play and lunch at a local park. After an hour of unstimulating socialization, we politely excused ourselves and separated from the group. We discovered a narrow path that had been blazed alongside the Quittapahilla Creek.
On a cool, cloudy March afternoon in 2010, our mutual inclination to quietly amble was aroused. Soon, we were exploring the fields and forests of south-central Pennsylvania two or three days out of every week. I am indebted to those women, ladies whose names I now cannot recall. If we had not been invited to spend an afternoon in an unfamiliar park, we would not have discovered the pair of Eastern garter snakes sunning themselves on a sandy bank, a snapping turtle doing the same on an opposite bank and the flock of noisy Canada geese collecting corn in a farmer's distant field. We surely could not have sought the alternative trailheads, providing us the experience of finding a vernal pond where we listened to the spring peepers last year - just the two of us.
Since our ill-fated playdate in 2010 we have visited a number of destinations, but we intentionally practice the art of Walking in only a select few. Those places are special. What makes them special? It is my opinion places ingrain themselves in us. The sights, scents, sounds...the unique energy of the space. It is in those special places my relationship with my son has been strengthened by our practice of Walking together. He has grown up walking alongside me. In every season, in all sorts of weather. I've had the privilege to share with him the art of Walking. I appreciate every moment ambling with him and will encourage any mother to politely excuse herself and separate from the group.