Monday, April 27, 2009
One of my favorite things about being here is walking. This is not the walking of hikes or purposeful power walks; this is the walking that I grew up with and had not done since moving to Maine. It’s the walking that comes from not having access to a car and needing to walk the kids to school; of having postcards to mail and needing to walk to the post office; of running out of milk and needing to walk to the store to buy more. We do have a car while here in Ireland but David is the only one who drives it. The combination of driving on the opposite side of the road and driving stick shift is daunting to me, especially with the kids in the car. So I have opted to not drive in Ireland. This means I spend a lot more time hoofing it from point A to point B. In Maine I walk in order to walk. The destination isn’t the purpose so much as the walking is. The same is true for the kids. I remember a year ago when Finn had a dentists’s appointing in Bar Harbor. We drove to Kids’ Corner, parked, dropped Corin off, and then Finn and I walked the three blocks to the dentist’s office. It was the first time we’d ever walked a few blocks in the name of an errand. Usually our walks are around Hancock Point or along the shore or on a carriage road in Acadia. In those three blocks we stopped and looked at people’s yards, greeted passers-by, analyzed litter, and looked in store windows. Certainly we stumble upon numerous marvels when we walk the shores of Frenchman and Taunton Bays, but for a city girl, the town walk feels comfortingly familiar and it’s a joy to be able to share the experience with the kids. In Ireland we’ve had ample opportunity to walk. This morning David was out early, so I walked both boys to school. Corin is due at 9:15 and Finn is due at 9:20. At 9 a.m. we don coats and hats, Finn shoulders his backpack, I tote a bag with Corin’s snack and diapers, and off we go. We dodge puddles, we balance our way across the cattle grate, we peek over the wall at the bulls, we stop and greet the local border collie (“MY BUDDY!” Corin exclaims whenever he sees him), we oooo at the passing tractors, we rush past the yard that has the pony (“Stinky pony” Finn always mutters), we play run/freeze games, I hold Corin’s hand, sometimes Finn holds Corin’s hand too, Corin tries to grab Finn’s hood, occasionally one of the boys stumbles and requires hugs, we marvel at how much litter there is in Ireland, we talk about the coming school day, the afternoon’s plans, the likelihood that we’ll walk into town in the evening for ice cream, and how it is that Superman can break a chain with his bare hands. I’m reminded of the walk that I took every school day for 9 years. It was with my brothers and usually my dad in the mornings and my mom in the afternoons, until I got old enough to make the trek with just my brothers or on my own. It must have been about 10 blocks and the daily pilgrimage had its sacred spots, like greeting Mr. Jones as he sat on his front porch or worked in his garden. Then there were the walks to the 7th Street Safeway or post office, early on with Mom holding our hands and later on on our own when a last minute ingredient was needed. There were the walks to and from babysitting gigs, soccer practice, church and friends’ houses. When high school started there were the walks to bus stops and subway stations. I spent so much of my youth walking and truth be told, I had no idea how much I was missing it until I got to Ballycastle. There’s a satisfaction in it. All I can think is that the part of me that thrills at a double play, celebrates buy one get one sales and revels in having my cake and eating it too finds great satisfaction in accomplishing a mission (get to school, get the stamps or the milk), while getting some exercise, while happening upon unexpected marvels, while participating in community, all by simply setting one foot in front of the other.
Posted by Sarah Baker at 10:39 AM