Looking around these days, it’s hard not to notice how fast everything seems to move. Youngsters streak by on bicycles. Teenagers shoot past on skateboards. Traffic on the street flies around like a stock-car race. Jet aircraft course across the sky at hundreds of miles per hour. Even elderly folks scoot from place to place on their motorized wheelchair buggies.
Sometimes I just need to slow down. Park the truck, open the door, and step out on my own two feet to just take a walk.
There’s more to taking a walk than you might imagine. It is no simple matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Properly executed, a good walk is an art-form to itself. There are many different ways to walk.
Personally, I’m partial to the “amble”, a slow-paced kind of walk that appears to have no goal or destination. It’s similar to a “stroll”, except the stroll is generally more abbreviated…a short stroll around the neighborhood, for example. On the other hand, one could amble for hours across hill and dale.
I like to amble in the woods. I don’t really need a path or trail, although I do enjoy slipping along the old cattle and game trails that line the canyons of my California countryside. These trails are always interesting if you’re willing to suspend the modern need for everything to happen immediately. Give it time, and you will be amazed. I often am.
Because some people think it’s a bit odd for a grown man to take random walks afield, I usually strap my rifle across my shoulder. This way, I can tell people I’m hunting. But I’m really just taking my gun for a walk.
A good walk can often consist of as much sitting as actual walking. I’ll cruise along, ambling, until I find a likely looking hill top or stump where I can park my carcass and have a bit of a breather. My sitting place usually overlooks some area where I’m likely to see game such as wild hogs or deer, so I tell myself it’s a good thing I brought a gun. Of course I probably won’t see any game. More likely, I’ll sit and watch things happen in nature… chipmunks browsing seed heads, little birds flitting from branch to branch.
It is not at all unusual for one of these periods of sitting to turn into a period of lying down. I’ll stare at the sky and watch the clouds float over, or close my eyes and think about stuff. I’m never sure quite what stuff I’ve been thinking about, because laying there with my eyes closed usually results in a nap. Napping is also a great and valuable part of a walk.
After a nice, long sit, or a nap, it’s time to get up and walk some more. On a good day, I may repeat the cycle several times.
Often, a day of ambling, sitting, napping, and ambling some more, leads me far from where I started. The sun will start to set over the western horizon, and I’ll realize that I have a long walk back to the truck. Then, my amble turns into a more purposeful stride, as I race the darkness back to where the journey began.