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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?: Walking a fine line

Nothing better than communing with nature and smelling the fresh air ... or so you’d think

All the experts agree. Walking is a marvellous way to get us sorted, physically, mentally and emotionally.

There is nothing better than communing with nature and smelling the fresh air.

We have an advantage here in the Maritimes to be able to smell the ocean as well, which is heavenly.

But getting out the door to go for a walk is a challenge, especially with a retired husband lurking around the joint.

I put on my jacket.

“Where are you going?”

“For a walk.”

“Want some company?”

Not really, but I can’t say this out loud. Telling someone “no” doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It just means you want some time to yourself, but that’s never the way it comes across, no matter how you try to wiggle around it.

“I thought I’d listen to audio affirmations on my earphones. It’s part of my strategy for a better me.”

“You won’t be better. You’ll be dead if you wear earphones on the highway. You won’t hear the cars. That’s not happening.”

Good grief.

“Fine, but I’m leaving now.”

“I’ll just be a second.”

Oh, come now. They weren’t planning on walking until a minute ago, so they aren’t ready and now they have to get ready, while you’re standing by the door in your boots with your mitts on.

He roars around the house trying to find his walking socks, pulling on his sweatshirt, taking a detour to the john, grabbing Kleenex, his boots, his walking stick, special hat and fumbling through the 18 pairs of gloves and mitts in the basket by the back door to find the ones he wants.

By this time, I’m sweating.

Finally, we’re both outdoors in the cold. We live on a gravel laneway, so depending on the weather, this is a dangerous route.

Most of the time, it’s covered in ice, so now I get the running commentary on where I should walk.

He points. “I put down sand. Walk there.”

So, I walk there.

Now, we’re at the end of the driveway, both of us still intact.

“Don’t walk from here to the mailbox. It’s too slippery. Walk on the left side of the laneway.”

I want to salute him, but I don’t. He’ll get annoyed. We start down the left-hand side, but it’s not good. We can’t build up a sweat shuffling around at a snail’s pace.

“We better walk on the highway,” he says. “But turn down those earphones.”

“What?”

He points at my ears. “Take those out!”

This time I do salute him. But he’s right. You can’t take a chance on a highway, even a rural one, so my affirmations stop and go in my pocket.

Now, we’re on the highway, supposedly walking together. But we have never walked together in our lifetime because, for some reason, he has always walked ahead of me.

And not just me, but everyone.

It’s like he can’t stand having someone at his side. So, I get to look at his back and have the end of his walking stick almost hit me with every stride because he doesn’t use the walking stick, only carries it.

It’s supposed to be in case a coyote pops out of nowhere, but if that happened, we’d only take a picture.

I hurry to catch up. “Walk with me. Just stay right here. Like this. Isn’t this nice?”

He smiles and nods and then, ever so slowly, quickens his pace until he is ahead of me.

“Car!”

We move to the shoulder of the road and wave at the car going by.

We have no idea who’s in it, but it’s surely a neighbour of some sort.

“School bus!”

Back on the shoulder.

When he gets too far ahead, I get annoyed. I rush to catch up and put out my hand.

“Hold my hand. Then maybe you’ll stay put.”

“You can’t hold hands wearing puffy mitts.”

“Try it.”

We try it. We have no sense of rhythm together. We’re as awkward as kids in kindergarten. I’m the first to let go.

“I so envy people who can walk together, holding hands.”

“It’s stupid.”

“No, it’s not. It’s lovely.”

“There’s more than one way to show a person you love them.”

“Oh, yeah?” I say.

“Big monster truck!”

He pulls me off the road and stands in front of me as one of the trucks from the local mine comes charging down the highway. He takes the brunt of the slushy mess that sprays in the air.

He’s got a point.

Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is in bookstores now.

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