Out Walking
by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.

Night falls an hour earlier now than it did a month ago. Evening walks that once began in full daylight and concluded against a rosy red backdrop end in twilight.

I walk the better part of an hour or more each evening and sometimes in the morning too, often with my dog and occasionally with a partner. The pace is leisurely, hardly ever brisk, and frequently interrupted with opportunities to comment about the weather or the progress of someone's garden with a neighbor or passing acquaintance.

By the time I return home I have surveyed a good portion of my town and know much about its business: whose tomatoes are ripened and whose house is being painted and who's hosting a family reunion. These walks fasten me to the community like the couplings on a freight car.

"All walking is discovery," said the author Hal Borland. "On foot we take the time to see things whole."

I have walked in places where folks had no business walking, or so it seemed. Strolling to town along one country highway I couldn't go a hundred yards without someone slamming the brakes on their truck, pulling up along side of me and offering a ride. Sometimes I'd politely refuse, three or four times, but mostly I just accepted the generosity; how do you explain a walk without a destination?

There are other lanes I would not want to walk, like those sprawling suburban neighborhoods linked together by busy roads that have no sidewalks, or the towns where dogs run free and nip at your heels while their owners roost in front of televisions that flicker behind darkened doorways.

The best towns for walking are small, mature places with streetlights and full grown shade trees. These are quiet rural communities with fewer cars and more familiar faces, where folks still take the time to wave or talk to their neighbors.

There was a time not long ago, as I recall, when walking was unusual. Everyone kept to cars and yards and buildings, as they still do in some places. Anyone who walked the streets was poor, possibly criminal, and
at best, eccentric.

Then came jogging and aerobics and fat composition, and an awareness of
cholesterol and heart disease and arteries. 

More of us became managers and sales people and information professionals. Few of us break a sweat working any more; that's what weekends are for.

Attitudes toward walking changed. Folks began to recognize it as
something good for you, like oatmeal. It's a simple and responsible
activity, if rather staid, that most of us have avoided most of our lives.

Now there's walkers everywhere. We're common in malls, along parkways, and even on darkened small town lanes like this one where the traffic is light and the dogs don't bite.

Rural Delivery
Rural Delivery

Commentaries and advice 
on rural living
by Michael Hofferber
Visit the
Rural Delivery Blog
Tree Avenue in a Small Town
Out Walking

Farmers Market Books
Market Entrance
The Nature Pages
Lease a Booth
Search the Market