Sunday, August 16, 2015

Learning to Walk Again

It feels weird to go for a solo walk without holding a leash with a companionable dog attached. On a trek of any distance, it is as though I am having to learn how to walk all over again. I wobble, and have to steady myself with my Carolina Hawthorne Root walking stick. To keep from limping, I have to concentrate on what I am doing and maintain the best posture I can for each step.

Nevertheless, I have started making the effort again, a week after the passing of my incomparable 15-year-old golden mix, Sadie. I will dedicate every walk to her.

The grandkids helped me get going yesterday. We decided to take a break and spend the day at Brookgreen Gardens, a amazing preserve of art and nature located on 9,000 acres near Murrells Inlet. After a full day, Hannah and Grayson still had enough energy to take on the Lowcountry Zoo, which meanders through the thick, somewhat spooky forests. Gray was taken aback by several signs warning hikers to beware of poisonous snakes, alligators and such creatures we might encounter, and he strongly suggested we turn back. I told him just to watch out for the wicked witch and her winged monkeys, and we shared a chuckle, and soldiered on.

And on and on and on. I don't know the distance, but the mid-August humidity began to wear me down. I loved seeing the red foxes, bald eagles, river otters, and, yes, alligators, but I began to worry we might have to put in a distress call to the Gardens' staff to come haul me out. But finally we rounded a bend and we were back to the starting area. I should have carried water but the walk was unplanned. I learned a lesson; always have water and snacks as well. On the positive side, this was a test I passed on the way back to walking.

At sunset today, I thought I'd go to the workout room and pedal the exercise bike. Then I thought how boring that sometimes is -- pedaling a bike that goes nowhere. So instead I walked one of the shorter routes I used with Sadie (or she used with me). At first, I didn't think I would be steady enough to enjoy it. But I got stronger along the way, and did enjoy it after all. So I passed another test.

Now I have taken out a year's family membership to Brookgreen Gardens, so special walks lie ahead there in all seasons. And I have rediscovered the simplicity of just grabbing a walking stick and going out the door. Yes, I still miss my sweet Sadie dog and always will. But it is important to keep going. I have signed up for the October 17 Heart Walk, so that will offer further motivation.  And there will be birds to watch and count.

                                                       © Robert G. Holland

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