“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.
“I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day…
(“California Dreamin’ ” by John and Michelle Phillips)
Christmas is over. The streets once lit by cheerful lights celebrating the Christmas season are dark again. In my little town, this is really the beginning of winter. The time when the only thing to brighten the dead things is the occasional blanket of snow.
We haven’t had much snow this year – not that I’m complaining. But this morning I looked out my window to see that my world as covered with a thin blanket of snow. Yesterday, the ground and trees were black and brown and shades of gray – and the sky wore it’s typical pewter-colored cloak. It won’t take that off until spring. I can hardly remember what a blue sky looks like over my little town.
A couple of days ago I took a bone-chilling walk in the winter rain. I came backed soaked and weary. Something about being wet and cold that makes my bones ache. It took me a while to recover from that… but it didn’t deter me from walking the next day.
Today, I walked in the snow. Given a choice I’d much rather walk in the snow than the rain – snow is dry compared to rain, though I know that’s silly. But it’s provable. Do your own test. Walk in the rain. Walk in the snow. Which is wetter?
I take walks every day – winter, spring, summer and autumn. Well, most every day. I don’t walk in tornadoes or lightning storms or heavy rains storms. Last year, out of 365 days, there were only 17 days I didn’t walk. Ten of those days I didn’t walk because I was under the weather (no pun intended) or suffering in pain – more about that later.
I try to walk 4 miles in one hour every day. I’m no spring chicken, so I consider my dedication to walking and the length of my walks worthy accomplishments. Funny how age changes a person. When I was young I was too busy to dedicate one hour a day to unwinding and walking for an hour. You know what I did in my 30’s? Of course not, how could you?
I ran 3 six-minute minutes every day and then did 50 sit-ups, 50 push-ups and 50 chin-ups – all in just over a half an hour. At my age now? Just thinking about doing all that makes me grimace.
It’s amazing how we change over the years – even though when we are not thinking about it – or looking in a mirror – we don’t think we’ve changed much at all. We like to think we’ve changed for the better – you know what I mean. We like to think we’re older but wiser.
But I wonder if that’s true. I wonder if a lot of my own age-related wisdom isn’t resignation.
At my age, I’m not looking for a new career. I am trying to hang on to the one I have. I’m certainly not looking to go to nightclubs to find female companionship. Oh heavens! Just the thought of “counting” a lady makes me tired. Girls took up too much of my youth – but it wasn’t their fault. I can only blame it on the young, rascally me.
But generally, I don’t think I’m all that much different now from my younger self. I like to think I’m much wiser now than when I was that young foolish bloke. But I also thought I was pretty keen back than. And destined for great things.
Funny how dreams slip away.
Looking in a mirror or at my saggy body does tend to bring me back to reality quickly. Thankfully, I’m not constantly look in mirrors or pinching at the flab on my saggy body. I rather pretend I’m a wiser version of that rascally youth that once upon a time occupied this body – albeit a much firmer – more slender body it was.
But what’s all this got to do with walking? I’ll tell you what! About a month ago, I was taking one of my standard winter walks . Part of the path I was walking on had recently flooded and the water froze and turned into beautiful patch of clear blue ice.
I was not looking in any mirrors, or prodding my flabby body at that time; I was out walking and my mind was happy to let me think I’m but a wiser, smarter version of the younger me.
My mind constantly plays tricks on me.
I looked at that stretch of ice in my path and I thought “I wonder if that ice is thick enough to hold me…” So, I boldly go where no man my age should ever go – I started walking across the ice, when suddenly my old, but hearing-aid-free ears, heard the sound of ice cracking. While the water was only a foot deep, I didn’t want to get my new walking shoes or my old feet wet, so I turned quickly to get off the ice.
I slipped and crashed onto the frozen ground – elbow first, hip second. I got up in a daze — yes I had fallen but I could get up! I don’t need any “Life Alert” quite yet!
My right dangled at my side like a useless pendulum on a broken clock. I didn’t know if I had broken my arm or my shoulder or both. I called a friend who took me to the ER – where I waited around in pain for an hour wondering what would become of me.
Was that my last winter walk? Or my last walk ever?
Ten x-rays and multiple proddings later, it was determined that I had a “stressed rotator cuff” in my right shoulder. And a really deep bone bruise and hematoma on my right hip. But no broken bones.
With a sigh of relief, I went home. Little did I know what I was in for. I hobbled around the house with my arm in a sling. My hip hurt, and I couldn’t lift my arm… but all in all , I’m a lucky old guy – it could have been a lot worse.
I only took a week off from walking, the following week I was back out walking my 4 miles in one hour. It hurt, but I did it. Gritty old me!
And now a month later, my hip is pretty much healed and my “rotator cuff” is rotating better than it was, but it still hurts.
My winter walks go on and I’m thankful. I know how lucky I am.
But now it makes me question whether I am really wiser than I was in my youth?
Maybe I’ll never know.
Today I’ll take another winter walk, but I think I’ll stay off the ice.