What I learned about life while walking the loop

When Patrick and I take a walk in our neighborhood, we call it ‘walking the loop.’ I do some of my best thinking while traversing this circuit, and I’ve learned scads about life while repeating this two and a half mile route.

Make plans but be ready for changes. 

In the early part of our walk, we plan to stroll side by side but if traffic is heavy we switch to single file. We stay alert for distracted drivers, knowing our survival depends on plunging into the ditch lickety-split.

Familiar does not equal boring. 

No matter how many times we walk this path, it is always interesting. We observe the buds of spring transform into full foliage and marvel at the brilliant colors after chlorophyll takes its final bow.

The road is familiar but infinitely interesting.

Life has ups and downs, and you need to take care of your neighbors.

As we start down Hill Street, there is less traffic, but our heart rates stay elevated while we hoof up and down steep hills. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour, so I add an aerobic workout chasing cars screaming, “Slow down! There are children living on this street!”

Be open to gifts and beauty along the way.

When we walk along the river there are hills, but we don’t notice them as we catch glimpses of the sparkling water of the Penobscot and spot eagles soaring on thermals. We greet other walkers and pause to admire our friends’ garden while nibbling on plump raspberries scoring an invitation to come back later with a bucket to partake in their abundance.

Though it might not be as exciting, enjoy the plateaus.

As we leave Eden behind, we turn the corner to loop towards home. There is a broad shoulder, so traffic isn’t as terrorizing. There aren’t any spectacular views as we trudge straight ahead on level ground, but our breathing and heart rates revert to normal.

You don’t get out of this journey alive, so enjoy each day.

We turn up an abrupt hill to walk through the graveyard, noticing freshly upturned soil and admiring the artifacts the living place on the graves of their lost loves.

We admire Joann’s shrine adorned with owls, whose husband, Harley, visits every day. He told me they married as teenagers, and no one thought they’d make it, but sixty-four years later, they had the last laugh.

Harley visits every day.

We sit on a stone bench at the top of the hill and admire the vista offering a prayer of gratitude for this day and the lives of the people we love.

Life is absurd, laugh often.

My reverie is interrupted by a flock of chickens marching up the hill, and I offer a cheery greeting. I realize my mistake when they charge towards me and until that moment did not understand the vicious nature of free-range chickens. Our laughter at the thought of chickens pecking at our calves spurs us into action, and we race up and down Hill Street, ending the final leg of our journey playing the adrenaline-producing game of ‘dodging distracted drivers.’

There is no place like home.

We stop to wish our neighbors a good day while we wait for a break in traffic to cross the street. It is pleasant to take a trip but magnificent to come home.

What have you learned about life while taking a walk? Can anyone answer this – why did the deranged chickens cross the road? 

Now available on Amazon: Boomer on the Ledge™, my book about the antics of an aging boomer.
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38 thoughts on “What I learned about life while walking the loop

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Walking is the spark of many a post and short story. Even without my dogs, I’d make sure I had a walk every day. I don’t do the same route everyday, but I have about four routes that I take it in turns to walk.

    “Ideas are born out of walking.”

    Thanks for taking us on your walk, Molly.

    • Seems like a common denominator amongst us writers, Hugh. Walking is a catalyst for ideas. I’m so grateful it is walking that has this effect instead of running or sky diving, aren’t you? Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. Love this, Molly! Thank you so much for taking us on your walk with you. I can so relate! If I don’t make it out to the nearby walking path (wooded area) during my lunch break at work, I sometimes walk on our gravel road. Problem is, the neighbors have a huge cash-crop operation, so this time of year and during planting in the spring, it’s a matter of dodging semi trucks, pickup trucks, and the occasional tractor–and I’m talking the HUGE tractors that are as wide as the road itself. And when it’s dusty, blech. Enjoy your weekend!

    • Your experience in Minnesota reminds me of what it was like living in the farm country of northern Maine. There is competition with farm equipment for the road during ‘peaceful’ walks and everyone drives a pickup truck. The tractors are getting bigger but the roads are the same size. What’s wrong with that picture? Glad you persevere and continue to dodge the machinery. Wonderful to have you visit and leave a comment.

  3. Thank you for taking us on that lovely walk, Molly! Even in my mundane neighborhood, walking with my pooches, (and always have my cell phone for photo ops) I find beauty in more than I expect. Leaves are turning, falling, the air is crisp at least in the morning for now. Each season has it’s charm, and each neighbor puts their garbage cans away, just so…LOL! I really do get my best ideas for blog posts, or school lectures, or solve the world’s problems, just by walking!

    • Isn’t it great how walking inspires creativity, Terri? I love that you enjoy the mundane, too, which really isn’t mundane when you pay attention. We need to start a world wide walking movement. Can you imagine how many problems we could solve?

  4. I’ve learned that walkers can arrive home wealthier than when they set out. Sometimes (it happens in fits and starts) I find money waiting for me on the ground. I’ve spotting $10.00 bills and $5.00 bills as well as many loonies and toonies (one and two dollar coins) as well as nickels. The most coins I spot though are dimes. It’s a goldmine out there, truly.

    • Wow, Kelly. I have not been so lucky in my walking excursions. Although you could say there are nickels scattered everywhere in the form of returnable bottles people have thrown into the ditch. I’m going to think about finding money from now on. One day I started my walk and thought about a snake and within 15 minutes I saw one wriggling in the grass beside the road!

  5. A beautiful walk and lovely post, Molly. Got me laughing too. I love the lessons learned and they’re all part of living our rich, but temporary, lives. Walks for me are also about being in the present with life and being in my body (I spend a lot of time roaming around in my head). Thanks for taking me along to enjoy the scenery. 😀

    • I like what you said about walking giving you time being in the present, Diana. Sometimes it takes me half of my walk to get there but by the time I am home again, I have cleared the cobwebs and my mind is refreshed and I, too, am in the present moment. It may take a flock of aggressive chickens to help me along, but I’m open to whatever it takes. 🙂

  6. You have beautifully articulated the meaning of “living life one step at a time.” I felt I was walking alongside you and a Patrick. Your loop walk sounds heavenly.

    • Thank you, Amy. I’m glad you could walk with us, seeing the extra in the ordinary. I miss this walk so much during the winter months. But we have another place we can go on winter days that is also lovely. The road to the Floods Pond is near us and closed to traffic. It is plowed because it is the source of Bangor water. It is peaceful and lovely on a bright, winter day.

  7. I love this, Molly! When we can take pleasure in the simple things and we notice the small things around us, I think we are happier people overall. Was trying to choose a favorite line but couldn’t….I loved it all!

    • Thank you, Sheri. I find my richest happiness in simple, everyday things and I’m grateful for that. It’s fun to have the mountaintop experiences, but they are rare so if I waited for those to be happy, I’d miss out on the best part of life. Always, love to get your comments, my friend.

  8. I wish there was a ‘love’ button on this post. I do my best thinking when walking and observing the nature around me. It always bring perspective on life in general. This was a beautiful post. I’m glad I found your site! Dawn

    • Thank you so much, Dawn, for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment. I’m glad I found you, too, and look forward to exploring stories of your RV lifestyle. You need to travel on up to Maine and we’ll go for a walk together!

    • I find the riches of life are hidden in what appears to be ordinary, Becca. If I miss that I’ve missed so much because the mountaintop experiences are few. They are wonderful when they happen but the treasures are found in the day to day living. Thanks for leaving a comment!

    • It is the best, isn’t it, Brigid? It’s like the ideas are in my brain but I need my body in motion to get them circulating to my consciousness. The free range chickens, well, they are something I can do without! Except, of course, they gave me the laugh I needed!

  9. Do you have a dog that takes you for walks? I love walking with my hubby and the dog adds to the joy and camaraderie. Besides all the benefits you mentioned, I like the feeling of accomplishing a goal. Happy trails!

    • Alas, after many years of being a two-dog home, we are without pets. Even so, our route was never conducive to walking either of our dogs due to the areas with high traffic. So, we stick with running with free-range chickens for now. I do think walking a dog is a terrific way to stay active, though, Jena, and am glad you enjoy yours. Someday we will have another dog when the time is right.

  10. Great post about the joys (and occasional drawbacks) of walking! I almost always think of writing ideas when I walk, without trying to think of writing ideas. And my neighborhood has the advantage of sidewalks. 🙂

    • I also write in my head when I walk, Dave. During winter months when it is impossible for me to do this walk consistently I am restless and feel like the ideas do not flow freely. My ideal morning is to write a rough draft of an essay, then take a walk. When I get home I rush to the computer to edit from the ideas generated during my walk. Sometimes I repeat things while I walk so I won’t forget them. Thus another learning – not everyone who talks to themselves while walking is (totally) crazy! Haha!

  11. It’s interesting what we notice when walking a familiar route everyday. I walk in the forest every day and never cease to be amazed at the variety of wildlife, vegetation, weather or even own breathing. Lovely post Molly!

    • It’s true, Debbie. I’ve suggested we change our walking route from time to time and we revert back to our consistent one. I do consider it a form of meditation. And so amazing to observe the changes that occur from day to day! Both in nature and what our fellow humans are up to in the neighborhood.

    • This is a very valuable lesson, Michele. I haven’t tested beyond the 2 1/2 miles but will keep this in mind if I decide to lengthen the route. There aren’t many places I can duck into with privacy if you know what I mean. Haha!

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