A Good Walk Spoiled
“Golf is a good walk spoiled” is a quote attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to Oscar Wilde. It seems instead to have been said by “The Allens” in 1905 or thereabouts--precisely which “Allens” is unknown, but I’m pretty much ruling out Gracie and Tim. Whoever coined it, it’s a great line.
I guess some might say I spoil most of my (infrequent) walks, without any assistance from a golf course.
Well, I rarely, if ever, observe the nature that I am traversing. I insist on some kind of verbal distraction or companionship whenever I lace up my sneaks. Walking alone, in silence, has all the appeal of the Bataan Death March. I need a walking buddy, preferably an extremely chatty one. As my friend and I amble, solving the world’s problems and exchanging the tales of our weeks, three miles pass like three steps. I become acutely aware of this phenomenon when we part company, and I have to slog the final few blocks home on my own. Those blocks pass like 3,000 miles!
If I can’t scrounge up a talkative walking pal, I usually turn to technology. I walk the boardwalk in Rehoboth most mornings every summer, and if I accidentally leave my Bose earbuds at the condo, I am a mess. How can I possibly manage to cover two miles without podcasts of “Modern Love” and “This American Life” keeping me company? I would have to (horrors) look at the ocean! I’d have to note the parade of colorful passersby, who are either Olympic athletes zipping past, or else woefully out-of-shape strollers, chomping on their cream filled donuts as they idle along. With the help of podcast hosts like Ira Glass and Miya Lee, I can happily pay my surroundings no attention whatsoever!
I was checking in with Evan yesterday, and he (an avid hiker and outdoorsman) was waxing rhapsodic about foraging for wild mushrooms. He had recently baked a galette with a bounty of chanterelle mushrooms that were collected in the woods by a savvy fellow hiker. I pictured myself out there in the Pacific Northwest, totally oblivious to the culinary splendors all around me. A chanterelle would need to be covered in sequins and playing a kazoo for me to notice that Queen of Fungi. Evan also loves hiking among the Northern California redwoods, a wonder of nature’s majesty that would for sure be lost on me. A tree is a tree, right? I’d barely register the fact that these particular trees happen to be hundreds of feet tall, and hundreds of years old. I’d be far too busy buried in my iPhone, checking my Fitbit steps.
One of these days, I hope to take an UNspoiled walk, all by myself, with no NPR in my ears and no gabby friend by my side. I will stop and smell the flowers, pick a chanterelle or two, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the natural world.
Maybe in the Spring of 2047.