When I was a kid, sometimes my worst enemy — my big brother — would suggest going for a walk. I never turned that activity down — and I rarely do now, now that he is an old man with various ailments, and I am still a young guy ready for a good walk.
Most walks I have done on my own or been dragged into by a relative I remember. Most car drives I do not.
One car drive I do remember, when I was a teenager, my big brother drove us north from Paoli, Pa. into the Pocono Mountains. We passed a sign that read “Appalachian Trail.” I think that’s what it read. It’s been a few years now, and I can’t be certain. What I am certain of is that my big brother stopped his 1953 Ford, and he and I went for a walk on the AT. A short walk, but a walk.
I’ll never forget that short walk. It introduced me to a love of my life, the Appalachian Trail.
I remember walks around Eagle Lake in Acadia National Park, up Tumbledown Mountain in western Maine, up Katahdin in more northern Maine — where the Appalachian Trail climbs its final five (I think 5.2 is what I recently read) miles, along a country road near that egg farm in Turner that is still apparently sinning in the way it treats chickens, up Singepole Mountain in South Paris, and up a bunch of higher Maine mountains on and off the Appalachian Trail.
I even remember starting on some of those walks, such as after I parked the car and my father, mother, and I headed up Tumbledown. It now is clear that it really wasn’t Tumbledown, but a path which rose till it met a lake near the top of that mountain. But I recall starting up, a kind of stretching beginning that got rid of the kinks of driving … a start that emotionally grasped at the trees around us and the mountain ahead.
I remember walks with my father back beyond the land covered by my Great Aunt Amy’s Belgrade, Maine, farm. Back into the woods, where we discovered … a road, an old woods road through the woods, a road where someone else had walked years before our venture.
I remember so many walks, but so few drives. I even recall, as a kid, our family’s walk through Boston from the train that had brought us from Pennsylvania to North Station where we would board the train for Maine.
I recall wearing an old pair of shoes out on a walk in Acadia National Park. I remember a walk in central Maine, where I had walked miles in a pair of moccasins. (I well remember that beat-up old moccasins are not the best foot protection for a long walk.) I’ve walked in my old Air Force brogans, in sneakers, and in later years in actual walking shoes. (Actual walking shoes, a later item in shoe stores — from about 20 or so years ago.)
This past year I’ve had both hips replaced, which slowed my walking for a couple of months. We’ve given up our house on the too-crested road with no trails outside of Ellsworth for an apartment within sight of the Searsport view of the ocean.
Here in Searsport I no longer have to cut the grass, do not start and lose track of a garden, no longer have to maintain the house, and have a much better place to walk — a half-mile drive down to the main highway. And beyond that to the dock.
I do walk, every day, for which Dolores praises me as being good for me. (And for which the men who sit downstairs in the dining room all day doing nothing never praise me. They just look at me as if saying, “What guy in his right mind would ever give up sitting here doing nothing to go for a walk?”)
I would and do. And suggest it for you, after you finish reading this, of course.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.