Tuesday, July 15, 2014

To be able to walk is a privilege

Village flowers

According to my mother, I walked well at 13 months, but wouldn’t let go of the table/skirt/anything within reach until a few weeks later: I was already tall and obviously the fall towards the ground was too much.
As a young child, one ran, one walked, one skipped and hopped with no thought of how or why.
School started and as much as I hate to use the expression “my generation wasn’t coddled”: no mom or dad taking us in the car, it didn’t matter how far, at a very tender age (6 in my case) we walked to school (my walk was probably just under a mile, but compared to my mother’s two-miles-in-the-snow, easy). We did that twice a day and as my siblings joined me (or not depending upon our friends), it became a game to see if we could walk all the way home after school on the middle white line (another relic from a past that’s long gone – it’s now difficult to sometimes cross the street, never mind walking any distance in the middle of it without putting oneself into mortal danger).

Lucky me: I grew up in Southern California, which meant that we were outdoors all day every day except for those brief periods of classes – and even then we still had P.E. (Physical Education) once a day. We continued to walk, run, skip and hop as well as adding skating (I’m going to really give away my age now: our first skates we had to hook on our shoes and then tighten with a key) biking and swimming. We were active. I still gave absolutely no thought to the process.

High school, university came and went – still walking and hiking – rock climbing was added.
As a young mother, I would fed my baby then go out for a jog before breakfast: once I had two I could at least take a long walk on Sundays, leaving them to their activities under my husband’s supervision.

When the younger son was 8 or 9, I was again able to take weekends and leave for the mountains, hiking was not something that my husband enjoyed (walking was o.k. as long as he wasn’t with anyone as he always felt conscious of holding people up: heart problems), but he was perfectly happy to play house husband and let me go. I realized that I was blessed, but not that I was privileged.

The first indication that walking is a privilege came when I was over 50: I was totally distracted reading papers whilst walking down my stair case and missed the last step entirely. Full force on one of my heels was sufficient to break it: 6 weeks of no foot on the ground. I began to realize the privilege we have of being able to walk.

Things went along that way for a while, until a trip to Prague: I didn’t see the small step (grey on grey in the middle of the square and I was busy looking up at the marvelous architecture), slipped off it and twisted my ankle badly enough to again have to have an open cast and no foot on the ground for another 6 weeks. I dealt with it thanks to the help of many friends: I was starting to really be cognoscente of the privileges.

Last year though really brought it home to me: three sprains throughout the year had me unable to do much hiking in the mountains at all.

So today, when we awoke to beautiful (finally) blue skies, I thought: it’s time. Off I went up to the ski station above the village and walked all the way back. What a wonderful activity: it’s such a blessing that I can again walk without too much thought.
What a privilege to be able to walk.

Cable car Les Marécottes to La Creusaz
Chalet at La Creusaz

Les Marécottes way down in the valley