Took the long (out of the way) way to campus this morning...mainly, because it'd been a long time. This is the route that takes me on a parallel path to campus, then technically past the edge of campus, ending up downtown. I was on a sort of a double-mission, actually. One, the extra exercise is nice. Two, I was on the lookout for things I might not notice if I'd been on wheels instead of on foot. Scott Savage (author of A Plain Life) put the idea in my head. He's the Quaker who walked across his home state of Ohio to officially hand in his driver's license (in person)—renouncing his driving privileges & hopefully getting his name "off the books." For him, it was a spiritual exercise of sorts. It'd been a while since I thought of Mr. Savage. And thanks to one of my few blog followers, he's once again providing me with inspiration.
Savage claimed that his slower pace through his community gave him a special perspective on it that few others could share. For example, he knew what kind of birds inhabited the neighborhoods, knew all the ditches, bridges, etc.—stuff that drivers can't appreciate as much because of the speed at which they move. It made me wonder if he was on to something. So, this week will be dedicated to that testing that theory. And my goal will be to notice something each day that drivers might not.
I noticed two things this morning—one good, one bad. First, the bad. My slower pace took me past the house of (possibly) the meanest dog in town. He must've lunged at me 3 times. And each time I thought he'd given up, here he came again. Followed me to the corner, which was at least 50 paces, forcing me to walk at least 20 of those paces backwards. I thought, "This is a dog you can't turn your back on." It was a high-stress way to start my day, for sure. The experiment was working, though. I can now say with confidence, "I know the dogs in this neighborhood better than most folks." Lucky me.
The good (i.e., less bad)? I noticed this morning that it's been at least 4 months since I've seen a particular elderly woman out in her front yard raking leaves. For years she's been a fixture on my walk. Even if there were only 20 or so leaves in her yard, she'd rake 'em. Sometimes she'd use a broom & sort of sweep 'em across her lawn to the curb. A couple of times I considered offering her a hand...but the more I studied her, the more I realized the raking/sweeping was somehow therapeutic for her—like it was something that kept her busy, something that broke up the monotony of her day, something that gave her purpose. I've missed seeing her these past few months & probably wouldn't have noticed her presence, much less her absence, if I'd been speeding by in a car.
P.S. Found half of a styrofoam McFlurry cup on my way in this morning. Carried it 2 blocks. Threw it away in a handy trashcan in front of Edward Jones.