Posts Tagged ‘Walking’

A Different Kind of Beautiful

March 2, 2011

I am not sure when or why this changed, but lately, I have been appreciating the beauty of winter.  Not just the sparkling coating of ice that shines on some mornings or the new fallen snow under a clear, star-light sky, but the stark, bare trees and the dormant fields and lawns surprise me with homely allure on my ventures in the world. I imagine that the trees’ roots reaching underground in a pattern that mirrors the expanse of the branches, providing home to unseen creatures, the golden fields resting in anticipation of the coming spring.

And I think about the unknown depths of the human heart where we carry so much more than can be seen by casual glances. But if we really look, might we see a different kind of beautiful?

Image here.


#6 The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

January 19, 2011

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.” – John Burroughs

Don’t say you don’t have enough time.  You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Goal number six: find the time.

If in a Lonely Place

November 4, 2010

“Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.” ~ Tecumseh

Sometimes the world can be a lonely place, but one of the things about walking is that it is so much less anonymous that driving!

People see you when they drive by, and they give you a friendly toot on the horn. I always wave, or at least look up in smile, just in case it’s someone I know, because I can’t always see who is in the car as it goes by. And when I pass someone on the street, I always say hello.

It’s been interesting. Sometimes people ignore me, and sometimes they seem surprised. And after all these months of walking, sometimes it seems like I’ve made a connection with someone….the man on the porch, the couple on the stoop, the woman walking to work, the man who leaves the gym at the time I come in….

It makes the world seem less lonely.

I like it.

Autumn Leaves

October 20, 2010

If I were someone who joined random groups on facebook, I would add “I go out of my way to step on a crunchy leaf” to my list of “likes.”

I love it when I come across a sidewalk covered with leaves to walk through. My neighborhood seems in a race to rake up all their leaves at times, so I don’t often get to trudge ankle-deep through leaves like I did on the walk to school when I was a little girl.

This morning, I was admiring the red and gold and brown leaves that were strewn on my path. It is such an incredible beauty. And I started thinking, aren’t people beautiful as they reach the autumns and winters of their lives, too?

We should celebrate that.


October 5, 2010

Our house on Erie Avenue was across the street from “The Grange”. I knew Grange Hall was a place for local farmers to congregate and to work toward their common good, but that was the extent of my knowledge.  I think the Gowanda Grange Hall had originally been built as the Catholic church in town, before St. Joseph’s at the corner of Erie Ave. and South Main Street where we worshiped had been built.  Kids in the neighborhood used to hang out on the front steps of The Grange, but the Hart kids weren’t allowed to do that. (I will have to ask my mother if that was just a general you-shouldn’t-be-hanging-around-anywhere rule or if it had something to do with the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry’s use of the secret meetings and rituals of the Freemasons.)

My mother would not have us sitting on our front steps shouting across to our friends, so she found a way that would lure the neighborhood to our front porch.  When daylight waned, the games came out at 60 Erie Avenue: Score Four, Risk, Monopoly, Battleship, Yahtzee.  We would start to play games, and The Grange crowd soon found themselves drawn across the street. This also made it seem like we were on our side of the street because that is what we wanted to do, rather than because we weren’t allowed to hang out at The Grange.  My mother is a very smart woman.

Both houses that Steve and I have owned have had screened-in back porches which were our favorite rooms.  The other night, little Grace Witt came over, walked out onto the porch and sighed, “What a great place to watch a thunderstorm!”  She is exactly right.

When we all lived in Syracuse, Patty and Billy’s front porch was one of our favorite places to visit. There were a lot of days when Steve and I got in the car to just go for a ride, and we ended up at Fishers. Patty had this framed and hung it up on the porch every year when Daylight Savings Time started. I think she still hangs this on her porch in South Carolina.

Twenty Things to do with Four Hours of Extra Daylight ….

20. Sit on your porch and read while having a gin and tonic.

19. Sit on your porch and talk to the neighbors while having a gin and tonic.

18. Sit on your porch and look at the flowers your wife planted while having a gin and tonic.

17. Sit on your porch and listen to the birds you haven’t heard since September.

16. Sit on your porch and watch the grass grow.

15. Sit on your porch and watch the flies and wasps bang into the screens and go away dazed.

14. Sit on your porch and watch the jocks from next door play catch with their lacrosse sticks and a hard little ball your car hood draws like a magnet.

13. Sit on your porch and appreciate the nice presidential rockers you couldn’t believe cost $300 last summer.

12. Sit on your porch and watch the neighborhood kids have a water gun fight and lay odds on how long it will be before one of the girls starts crying.

11. Sit on your porch and watch the woman next door get sunburned.

10. Sit on your porch and watch the kids playing under the sprinkler and lay odds on how long it will be before one of them trips and cuts a foot.

9. Sit on your porch and think about cutting the grass.

8. Sit on your porch and watch your neighbor mow his lawn.

7. Sit on your porch and think about getting the barbecue going for dinner.

6. Sit on your porch and hope your wife asks “Honey, do you need anything out there”? just as the ice cubes clink against your teeth.

5. Sit on your porch and listen to the worms in the lawn.

4. Sit on your porch and listen to airplanes.

3. Sit on your porch and doze.

2. Sit on your porch and make believe you have nothing else to do.

1. Sit on your porch.

I guess the point of all of this is to tell you how much I love porches. I read Gone with the Wind three times while lounging on our front porch, and I loved to sit and gossip with Betsy down at 86 Erie Ave on the glider on the Hoppas’ front porch.

As I walk around Gettysburg, I notice all the different porches that I pass and imagine what they say about the people who live there.  Springs Avenue with its grand houses is a porch lovers paradise. Some of the porches look like cozy parlors where you would love to stop by and have a cup of tea and discuss affairs of the day.  Others seem to have become storage rooms, resting places for the bicycles and fire wood.  Many are a combination of both.  Some porches, though, are neither parlors nor storage areas, but sad and empty rooms.

On Middle Street, there is a porch on a row house with an old set of theater chairs on it.  Isn’t that perfect? Show seats for the show right outside your front door! And there are a lot of interesting people and events to witness on Middle Street!

But my favorite porch in town is on South Washington Street.  It’s on a brick house  with gingerbread trim painted gold and green and rust.  It once housed a popular hair salon. It’s a small porch, right next to the sidewalk. The floor is just about chest level to me. There is not any furniture on it except when someone is sitting out front.  The man who lives there often brings a kitchen chair to the porch, a throne from where he presides over the street, greeting everyone. Sometimes, a stool or chair has been pulled out for a visitor who is chatting with him on the porch. He makes me feel welcome and a part of the neighborhood as a I head to and from my appointed rounds.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of porch I am? I think I’m like the combination porches, not quite put together.  But I aspire to be the cozy, welcoming kind — whether I am on Springs Ave or South Washington!

Here’s My Justification….

October 3, 2010

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Steve and I decided that we would view the “ordeal” as a journey toward good health.  It really made a hugh difference in how we looked at everything, and his positive attitude helped me to keep my spirits up when we hit new challenges. (Although, he also was the person who was most likely to receive the full force of my frustration when the going got rough at times.  “I have CANCER, you know,” I would tell him.  “The show that I am handling this well is for EVERYBODY ELSE!” It actually became a little joke between us.  “Oh, yeah,” Steve would say with a roll of his eyes, “you have cancer,” when I was being my ornery self.)

Now, I often have to remind myself that the journey is not over just because the cancer is in remission. The walking and lifting and tai chi-ing and healthy eating are all necessary, just as important as going to see my friendly oncologist, as required on my calendar as the appointments with the surgeons and physical therapist and radiation technicians had been during the cancer year. I have to remain committed to continuing on the yellow brick road to good health.

And then there is this:  “Exercise gives you endorphinsEndorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” ~ Elle Woods, Legally Blonde


September 10, 2010

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the

I was telling Chris about something that happened at my tai chi class that has been on my mind this week, and she ‘dropped a key’. (I wish I knew how to link to her great post on this, but I don’t yet. I encourage you to go read around in her blog, Everyday Feats of Courage for some really fine thinking and gorgeous writing. You can click on it from my blog roll.)

Anyway, a couple of the fellas in the class had asked Allie if there were exercises that would help with balance, and we did a little extra balance work in the class. He said some interesting things as we were doing the exercises, including this: Many people don’t actually walk, it’s literally controlled falling. And this: Studies show that walking pace slows as balance increases. He pointed out that dancers move differently that other people, and they don’t look like they are hurrying. I thought about how Jillian walks, and how beautiful and easy-going it looks. And as I watched Allie demonstrate the exercises, I couldn’t help but notice how in-line and graceful he looked while he did them.

Now, as someone who has trouble walking…. I would say “and chewing gum,” but in the interested of accuracy, I should probably say “and staying upright,” …this was all very interesting to me.  Is my walking just controlled falling? Do I just use my next step to stop my fall (not always successfully)?  Hmmm.

Chris asked this, “How much of our living is lurching from one emergency or crisis to another?” Oh my goodness!  Exactly! So many of the things on my list are pointed toward changing the balance — toward good health, physically and spiritually, for me, for those I love, for my small corner of the world.  Learning to walk “with poise and peace and intention,” Chris said.  That’s the key!

Maybe this is a good time to review The List, so I can give you some examples.

Here is The List of ten things that I want to/think I should/am afraid to do, but will try to do before the end of this year:

1. Commit to walk anywhere that is less than one mile away.

I am walking a lot more, and I love it! I extended the commitment to “anywhere in the borough,” and it makes me slow down, not take on as much, since I have to plan for the time it will take to walk to places.  It’s been a really good thing to do.  There are a lot of interesting things to tell you about walking, which I will do in another post.

2. Take a tai chi class and/or a yoga class.

Tai chi has been really good for me, and it’s fun that Laura took the class so she could come with me to class, and I could show her off.  And Sarah is taking tai chi this semester, too!  I added a second class this week, and it was really cool.  Allie teaches it, too, but it seemed different than the Wednesday class.  Chris tried to show me yoga, but I was really bad at it.  I still might take a class with Caryl at a new studio opening in town.

3. Grow enough tomatoes for a whole year. Maybe green beans, too.

The weather didn’t cooperate on the tomatoes, but I love our little tomato garden for so many reasons, including the delicious Cherokee purple tomato sandwich I enjoyed for lunch, but mostly because Steve and I did it together.  Love and homegrown tomatoes.  You can’t buy ’em.

4. Get into a clinical trial on chemobrain or some alternative chemobrain therapies.

I don’t have anything to report on this one — or maybe I just can’t remember.  : )

5. Ask the questions that I want answers to.

I’m getting better at this, but it’s still hard, even for small things.  One question, “Do you think lifting weights would be good for me?” has resulted in a fun, new routine that involves walking, lifting, drinking coffee, and philosophizing.  What a great combination!

6. Attend a powwow.

Still need to do this before the year is out.

7. Go to a post-cancer support group.

Does my “life after breast cancer” class count?  I learned a lot about myself during that time.

8. Write more.

I am writing more.  Not enough, but more.

9. Learn a new language.

I haven’t found a class time that works yet.

10. Ride the bus.

I still need to do this, but Laura and Jack rode the bus!  Admittedly, it was to cut a mile off of the return hike from Green Acres, but they figured out which bus to get on and how to get home. There were three people on the bus….Laura, Jack and the driver.

(11. Make a new list.)

I’ve started a new list.  It includes this really fun goal: Going to every museum in Gettysburg! It will also be kind of hard, since I feel funny going into places where I am not sure I belong.  Like the new Brooks Brothers outlet. Although walking in there with my son the offensive/defensive tackle, and having him give the salesman who was dressed in a striped, white collared shirt and tie with a cashmere cardigan tied around his shoulders the “once over,” and turning to me to say, “I could rock that style,” makes me hope that Jack will come with me to at least some of the museums.

Now, a final thought on controlled falling.  Sometimes I think it’s okay to fall into something without holding back.  Like faith and love and friendship and parenting and laughter. Sometimes we need to fall overboard….even if it’s not peaceful or poised, because it can be grace-filled.

But as strong as I seem to think I am my distressing damsel,
She comes out at night when the moon’s filled up and your eyes are
bright, then I think I simply ought to

Fall over, fall over, fall overboard, overboard
Fall overboard just so you can catch me
You can catch me

(Ingrid Michaelson)


April 26, 2010

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

One hundred years and one day later, I fell flat on my face. I was walking along, on my way to World Tai Chi Day at the Rec Park. One minute, I was enjoying the brisk, sunny morning, the next, I was kissing the sidewalk. Ouch! I picked myself up, and continued to my destination, my face marred by blood and dust.

I first heard this quote from my father, the third consecutive year that I unsuccessfully tried out for cheerleading in high school. It has since been a favorite of mine. For one thing, you have to be pretty lucky to have a dad who would know that not making the cheerleading squad again and again was a really big deal. Because of my dad, I fondly remember the days before the final try-outs, learning the routines, sharing the comaraderie and the aching muscles with my friends (who made the team), instead of moment of learning that I was not among the chosen. I don’t even remember how we found out the results. I learned something that has helped me many, many times in my life, how to handle disappointment, to be gracious in failure, and to hold my head up when I have given my best effort.

Oh, I felt like crying on Saturday morning. And yesterday, my lip hurt, my hand hurt, my knee and toe and shoulder hurt. Truth be told, I am still a little sore today. But I’m glad I kept on going to the park. It was really cool to do tai chi with close to 50 people outdoors, including my dear friend Chris! I found out that Alpha, my next door neighbor, does tai chi, and we are going to go to the outdoor class on Tuesday nights together.

I don’t want to be one of the “cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” So, even if it makes me feel silly or out-of-place, I am going to keep working on the list….channeling my inner Gert Loplitz!


March 10, 2010

…is everything you can walk to.
~ Stargirl (Jerry Spinelli)

It’s fun to live where you can walk many places! Gotta love the ‘burg on a beautful, sunny day!

Here’s to all the faces and the places that were home today: breakfast with Jennifer, Celete’s icon class, physical therapy with Allie, and 965 with Steve and my favorite unwilling teenagers! Add to that an “I just saw you” text from Chris, a beautiful drive to the holy city with waiting time to catch up with Caryl, and you’ve got a pretty awesome day.

And only a few more days until Sarah is within walking distance!

’tis the season to remember all the places and the faces that . . .I’ve known, and to thank his tender mercies that I’m never far from home.
~ Jimmy Buffett (Merry Christmas, Alabama)