When You Come to a Knife in the Road

By Bob Holeman

Diet and Exercise. Diet and Exercise. This has been the mantra of the wellness sector for years. Better to stay well through self discipline than to battle any illness resultant from being a couch potato who eats too much pizza and donuts.

I’ve got a friend who has been walking on a regular basis for years. He told me his exercise routine was not so much for right now (he was about 40 at the time) but for when he gets to be 80. He doesn’t want to lack the mobility he saw in his father.

I thought this was a great idea but didn’t get around to it until a couple of years ago, inspired by Diane who had begun walking with a friend. I mapped out a route up and down the hills of our neighborhood, through the parking lot of the old Autumn Leaves and back to the house. One mile. We’d walk it twice on nice days.

But this route took us past a couple of homes with pit bulldogs chained and barking in their back yards. We had less confidence in the dogs’ restraints than the owners apparently had so we changed our routine. Still we went up and down hills, through the parking lot, but then we headed downtown, up Main Street and back. Then home. Diane tracked this and determined we were going something over three miles. We did take a winter break but resumed in this gradually warming spring.

A month ago, Rotary held its 5K Walk & Run as a fundraiser. It was mostly president Samantha Kelly’s idea and response for a first-time event, both by Rotarians involved and by participants was excellent. Diane and I walked. I also learned something I’d not bothered to look up. “How far is 5K?” I asked fellow Rotarian and walker Mary Lou Blackley. “It’s 3.1 miles,” she responded without blinking.

Wow, so I’ve got some useful information. I can tell neighbors that Diane and I get up weekday mornings and do our 5K. It sounds more impressive that telling then we walked 3 miles.

We enjoyed waving at and greeting folks along the way. Shop owners. Passersby. Barber Rayford Riley was always a favorite and Diane would generally slow down to let me catch up because I didn’t want to appear the laggard. Rayford would smile and wave unless he had his back turned, telling stories to his customers. Mostly now it’s a quiet walk. Diane still waves at a lot of empty windows, hoping someone is there inside.

We do count cats at the top of Main Street, guessing in advance how many there might be that day. Diane will go first, then I’ll pick one number either higher or lower. She’s usually closer, though I’ve had a couple of good days lately.

I was reminded of one of Yankee great Yogi Berra’s witticisms the other day. He advised, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” While Diane generally looks ahead as we walk, I’m often looking down, in case I see something. A penny or a dime might be my reward. So as we reached North Street, there in the road was a nice stainless steel dinner knife. Taking the hint from Yogi, I took it.

One thing walkers learn is how to read drivers at intersections. The sound of their engine or the look in their eyes are pretty good indicators. Mostly now, folks are in no big hurry because there aren’t that many places to go. So many may stop well short of the intersection, give a big smile and wave us through. If, on the other hand, they approach with a phone held to their ear, perhaps it’s best for us to pause.

During this current downtime, I’d encourage readers to get out and walk, breathe in a lot of this refreshing, virus-free Winnfield air. I enjoy spending this relaxing time with my wife. On occasion we may see something beyond our tranquil time together, like seeing a pair of pileated woodpeckers which were showing off on poles and trees on North Street. But don’t count on thrills. Just enjoy.

Leave a Reply