Walking is my favorite mode of transportation. It is also my preferred form of exercise, meditation, stress reduction and idea generation.
In middle school and high school, I walked and talked with my friends, Irene, Alexandra and Charles. We covered miles and miles around our neighborhood and beyond during those free-range chats. After school, we might walk to the park or to the small shopping plaza for candy. On summer nights, we hiked all the way to Carvel for a soft-serve chocolate ice cream cone.
In college, I parked blocks away from campus. I walked for miles each day going from building to building for classes and then traipsing back to my car in the rain, snow and heat. Once I saw a classmate waiting for the city bus and offered him a ride home. By the time we trekked all the way to the safe suburban street where my car was parked, my classmate declared that he should have just waited for the bus!
When I moved into Manhattan after college, I preferred walking to work over the slow, crowded buses or the smelly subway. I did not think it was a big deal to set out each morning from my fourth floor walk-up on East 76th Street to my first publishing job on East 27th Street. I was pretty speedy and knew which sidewalks were less congested at that time of the morning. On the way home after work, I was able to incorporate stops at the produce market and the dry cleaner with maximum efficiency.
It is not surprising that my summer vacations almost always involved hiking. At last count, I have hiked in at least 12 states (New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Colorado, California and Utah) as well as in St. Lucia. Whether inhaling the crisp early morning mountain air or traipsing through muddy paths in a rainforest, I enjoy the scenery and the physical exertion of touring new places on my own two feet.
For years, I walked the track at John Jay High School after work. Back then, I appreciated walking around and around to contemplate my thoughts and story ideas without the fear of loose barking dogs or road traffic. The miles added up each week and were a welcome addition to my daily schedule in spring, summer and fall.
Now I walk two miles a day on the local roads with my neighbor. For the first two years we were extremely dedicated to our 6:15 a.m. daily walks. It was a great way to start the work day. We are more relaxed this year, trying to plan a day or two ahead for our mid-morning or early afternoon walks. Sometimes my neighbor will call and say, “I need to take a break. Can you be ready to walk in 10 minutes?”
Walking and talking on our 2-mile loop is a combination of exercise and therapy. Whoever needs to share good news or vent can have the first mile. We are never at a loss for words. We make each other laugh, serve as sounding boards, offer advice and accountability. No subject is off-limits.
Along the way, we wave to dog walkers and the mailman. “You are fast walkers,” our mailman, Steve, tells us.
“We are fast talkers!” says my neighbor with a laugh.
By the end of our 2 miles each day, there is always a sense of accomplishment. And the extra reward for me is a big bowl of chocolate fudge ice cream!
Kim Kovach will be teaching creative writing for adults at the Pound Ridge Library on Tuesday evenings starting July 10. Be inspired to write this summer! kimkovachwrites.com.