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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Observations on A Walk Home from School

Last Monday I was without our vehicle for a short time due to last minute appointments. The lack of said vehicle occurred during peak pick up times from school. I decided to walk and pick up my two sons, Nathan and Sebastien.  I could picture their surprised faces glowing with excitement at the prospect of walking home.  Perhaps we could even stop at the park on the way back to play before picking up my daughter from middle school. It couldn't be that far away.  Many children from our apartment complex walk to school.  I congratulated myself on this spontaneous exercise activity and set out on my journey.

Oh lovely Colorado.  Those amazing curvy uphill sidewalks added a spicy twist to my exercise recipe.  I regretted bundling up against the cool, windy weather we had that day.  It wasn't long before I wanted to remove those layers of clothing and the thick knit hat.  Not only was I becoming quite warm, I also was carrying two extra jackets to bundle the boys.  You see, they had only taken light jackets and I was concerned they would be cold on the walk home. So I trudged on with the added weight of the cumbersome jackets.

Turns out that the short drive to school is actually a 2 mile trip.  Seems a lot longer when you have to walk.  I'm not accustomed to walking this far on a regular basis and have only recently returned to exercising.  Each step reminded me of long forgotten workouts from my younger days.  Back then a 2 mile walk seemed easy.  I remember running on the beach in North Carolina on the outer banks with my sisters and brothers.  Once a year each January we tried to go for a short visit. Even with the wind blowing on a chilly day by the water, I zipped along at a good pace.  I miss the energy I had back then.

But we can't dwell on the past. So I continued on until I reached the elementary school.  I had seriously underestimated my walk time and arrived to find that my sons were almost the last ones to get picked up.  Nathan was worried.  "Where were you?  Where's the car?"  I usually arrived extremely early to avoid the chaos of cars lined up in front of the school.  So my late arrival created legitimate concerns for my sons.  Sebastien was happy to see me, but not thrilled when I layered him up with another jacket and hat.  After a brief moment of explanations, we ventured away from school and began our travel home.

The weather cooperated on the walk and I was grateful for the sunshine.  The boys became animated as they told me about their day at school.  As I watched their expressions and actions, I was reminded how much we miss when we are in an enclosed box with wheels and sound proof windows.  I remembered my own experiences walking home from school with my friends when I was in the third and fourth grades. (When we lived close enough to walk to and from school.) I promised myself that we would plan more walks home from school even if there's snow on the ground.  The menu of sensory experiences is priceless.  Here are my observations from that walk:

1. Sebastien enjoyed getting off the sidewalk so he could walk in the colorful leaves of Fall. His shoes created a swishing sound as they slid through piles of leaves.

2. Nathan pointed out the trees and mountains that were visually stunning against the backdrop of the clear blue sky as we walked home.

3. The boys felt the breeze as it blew through their hair (hats came off shortly after our departure from the school), heard the leaves rustling, and felt the sun's warmth on their faces.

4. We saw birds, squirrels, and insects.

5.  We smelled the scent of pine needles, freshly cut grass, and flowers.

There are many places we go that are too far to walk.  However, we have also started to explore other modes of transportation with the children.  They recently experienced riding the city bus, which provided many new sensations for them.  I loved traveling by bus, strassenbahn, plane and train while living abroad.  Each mode of transportation has its own unique experiences.  But the joys of walking are often underestimated.  Some of my happiest and funniest memories are the result of walking and exploring.  It's fun to be able to share these moments with my family.

Have a wonderful week.  Hope you have an opportunity to get out and walk to enjoy the Fall weather.