My Life on the Post Road: Walk This Way Redux

I rediscovered and wrote about the joys of walking when I spent the year in Stratford Upon Avon, because, without a car, if I wanted to go anywhere, my feet had to take me there. When I returned to the States, being sequestered back in my car was one of the most difficult things about the transition.

Now, being sequestered in the house, re-rediscovering the joys of walking has proved one of the silver linings of this otherwise less than joyful time. Of course, I used to walk on Compo Beach quite often, but I drove there, and those walks, while delightful, were very purpose driven. I searched relentlessly for beach glass, with my head down and eyes focused where the sea meets the sand. Often, I had to remind myself to look up and take in the beauty of the shoreline that surrounded me. 

Now when I walk, it’s to move my otherwise atrophying muscles, stimulate lymph, and stave off insanity. I live in the Saugatuck section of town, and so I can walk out my door – just like I used to in England – and come upon some lovely scenery quite quickly. In my first foray, I headed downhill and across the Cribari Bridge, still festooned with the Christmas lights that make it twinkly at holiday time. It crosses the Saugatuck River just upstream of 95 and the Metro North train bridge and just before the river empties into the Long Island Sound. In my 23 years in town, although I’d driven over it thousands of times, I’d never crossed it on foot before. Now I go back and forth over it on most days.  I love the one lone red padlock fastened to it on the south side: D&R, it says. I wonder who they are and think of the many bridges I crossed on foot during my year abroad: in Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and all over England, many of them so laden with locks of love that the municipalities had to cut them off to save the bridges from sinking with the weight of all that affection. Do we love less, or just express it differently here?

I marvel at the detritus along the way. Saddened by the things that people toss thoughtlessly into the river, visible especially at low tide: yogurt containers, beer bottles, plastic bags. Amazed by the variety of stuff on the street: a lone jalapeno pepper, a badminton birdie, half of an inscribed birthday card. Crushed cans mirror the crushing heaviness of this epidemic, pencils split in half echo the abruptly curtailed school year, and empty schnapps bottles tell stories of how some are coping.

There’s brightness, though, too. I savor the buttery yellow forsythia, reminding me of the ones that ringed the playground behind the building where I grew up in Howard Beach, Queens. The pink magnolia and weeping cherry blossoms compete for attention. The waters of the Saugatuck glisten and flow, oblivious to the turmoil we are now experiencing. I am acutely aware that my lungs can take in a full breath; I know that if I caught this coronavirus, they’d struggle mightily as they do whenever I catch a simple cold. I appreciate Vitamin D that Mother Nature ministers for free, knowing it will strengthen my immune system.

This may sound trite and cliché, but in this time of crisis when so many are ailing – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially – walking has magnified and made me appreciate these very basic gifts. I hope soon to write about something other than Covid-19’s impact; in the meantime, I will take a long walk. 

Photos by Diane Lowman


Follow Books, Ink HamletHub