posts tagged with 'walking'
The weather today featured what forecasters were calling a "wintery mix", so the boys asked if our trip to the library this morning could be not by bicycle. A reasonable request: the sidewalks can be pretty deadly in our neighborhood in regular snow, never mind an alternating mix of snow and tiny balls of ice. They asked if we could drive, but I didn't feel that would be in any way preferable. So we walked.
It was actually lovely. On the way up, the precipitation was mostly snow and there weren't many cars on the streets—"walking in a winter wonderland" indeed. Then coming home it was wetter, but also downhill. Even Lijah is a pretty good walker now, though he does complain some and drags terribly when I'm holding his hand. And it's lot more exercise than being on the bikes, where we barely even have to pedal coming home. So totally worth it. But man is walking slow! It takes us maybe 12 minutes to bike to the library, and well under 10 coming home. Walking was 45 minutes each way. Good thing we don't have anything else to do!
On Friday morning the boys and I set out on a walk to Whole Foods and the play space. The younger two asked why we weren't bicycling—easy for them to say, they don't have to do any peddling!—and I told them I wanted to be able to go slow, look around, and observe the signs of spring. The ones visible under all the snow. So we hit the road.
The sidewalks were plowed (finally), but there was still plenty of lumpy ice and snow that made it tough for Lijah so, contra the evidence of the picture above, I mostly carried him. There were moments that I wished I had the backpack for him, or at least the Ergo carrier; but then I realized that we weren't actually in any hurry, and I wanted him to be able to go down whenever anything caught his interest. Because even over the mile distance to the Great Road Shopping Plaza there's lots to see—like our local storm drain retention basin
Or the big pile of plowed-up snow in front of Leary Auto.
Or the tree that fell across the Narrow Gauge bike path.
We stopped at those places and many others—Harvey and Zion were completing a series of challenges. It was nice to take the time. Usually when we're walking we have the dog, who—quite rightly—imposes his own priorities. Nice, but also kind of tough for me: I had to work hard not to hurry everyone along, since I'm so used to hurrying. But no, this was totally a trip on which the journey itself was the destination. Lijah (who doesn't do ice or piles or trees) could have all the time he wanted to stomp snow.
Eventually we did make it to our actual destination, and had a lovely time for several hours. Then we had to walk back home, which was... less delightful. But that's another story! (spoiler alert: we made it).
I took a walk with Elijah by the river today. The air was rather mild despite the recent blizzard, and I was breaking a path through knee-deep snow. Altogether it was very good exercise.
The reason I was exercising thusly is because I'd just had a shouting fight with my husband about the gym. He thought I should go to the gym because I Clearly Needed A Break. I said a break wouldn't cut it after the morning I'd had. He said Don't You Trust Me to Watch the Three Children it's like you're some kind of Martyr for no cause in particular, a bitchy Martyr who is Unpleasant to be around. I said, if you really want to hear my opinion, you can't take the baby out in this weather just standing around, he screams when you do this, I know from a lot of personal experience holding a screaming baby, and you can't let the other children play in the street unsupervised, and if it's all the same to you I'd rather mind the baby than have him screaming on the street or having my other children hit by a car, and furthermore I'm tired risking the life and limb and the happiness of everyone in this family just so I can spend thirty minutes in a smelly room burning one fifth of the calories I ate for lunch.
Dan said he thought I liked the gym.
I said I like it fine. But. I haven't slept in weeks and the older kids are capable of fighting over which monochrome lego brick belongs to whom and the baby screams if he's awake and not touching me and there is no amount of pull-ups that will that okay. I cannot spend thirty minutes on the rowing machine and come back to the same house and the same life and pretend it's all totally okay.
So Why not go for an hour? Dan said.
And I said, you don't understand. This body that I might spend an hour training in front of a sticky mirror? this body is food and comfort for ten hours every night. Actively. Like, I have to prop myself up on my side and the arm that I'm propping up on goes numb. And then during the day, carrying that back-pack around all the time, my body is some kind of a diaper/spare-clothing/snack/water-bottle/bandaid mule.
There is no magic amount of time at the gym that will make this okay. I just want you to hear that. If I go to the gym, let's just be clear, I want to leave open the possibility that I might come back and still be kind of frustrated.
Dan said Do Whatever You Want and slammed the front door.
I decided what I really wanted was to get some fresh air.
So I bundled the baby into his snowsuit (he doesn't scream if he's moving) and me and the difficult one took a long walk by the frozen river.
And you know what? It WAS good exercise.
But fuck exercise.
I am tired of wondering whether things are good exercise or not. I am tired of wondering if I am working my quads or if I am working my glutes or if I've burned the calories I just consumed or am planning to consume later. I'm so very tired of wondering anything. Wondering whether a white noise machine will get my baby to sleep, or if sleeplessness is just part of my life not subject to change. I just want to stop wondering. I just... want to do something because it's ENJOYABLE.
Not because it'll make me a better mother or because it'll make me thinner or because an accountant in my head is calculating the per-use cost of my gym membership. I just want to do something FUN for an hour. I walk to walk in the snow and look at the bunny tracks and say in some pleased voice I may not possess: "That's something I won't be able to do when I'm dead."
Elijah enjoyed bouncing around and looking at the snowy trees. He didn't notice the incongruity later of going to bed to a soundtrack of beach noises. Let's hope (though I don't mean to functionalize our time together) that the walk and the noise machine help him put some real hours of sleep together. Perhaps they will get both of us dreaming of fresh air and summer.
The boys and I walked up to the library late this afternoon, and back after dark. Well, Harvey and I walked; after the first twenty or thirty steps Zion rode in the stroller, wrapped up in blankets and a towel against the damp. It was a pleasant wintery evening: warmer that it has been, though damp and raw, and with a fine snowfall sparkling in the air. We sang "Winter Wonderland" on the way up (as well as many choruses of "Willaby Wallaby", with all the names we could think of). Nearly free of whining, it was an almost perfect transportation walk except for one thing: the roar of passing cars that made it just about impossible to hold a conversation.
You don't notice it so much when you're inside them, but cars are pretty loud—and all the more so when the road is wet. Even as slow as they're moving in town—not much more than thirty miles per hour anywhere along our evening's route—the noise of the tires was enough that Harvey and I had to just about shout to talk to each other, and Zion, talking out of his pile of blankets, didn't have a hope of making himself heard.
I don't have any hope of improving the situation, or any idea of what could even be done in a perfect world. At least living where we do we always have the option, when we want to be able to talk while walking, of heading out to the woods or fields. But that way we don't get anywhere useful. I can't even claim any moral high ground, since this winter I've been driving around town at least as much as I've been walking, and our new car has giant wheels that are probably even louder than average.
There's probably a broader point to be made about externalities here, but I'm too sleepy to come up with it. When it comes to driving, maybe it's just that it's hard for people behind the wheel to remember that anything external to their vehicle even exists. I'll try and fight that as I drive, and while I can't do much about the noise I'll be careful not to splash pedestrians with water from puddles, or honk my horn where it could startle someone. That—and trying to drive a little less—might make the world a tiny bit better.
Apparently Americans don't walk very much. That's actually not really news to me, and not only because the article I linked there is a year and a half old; monitoring the sidewalks around town makes it clear that most people in Bedford, at least, don't like to use anything other than a private automobile for purposes of transportation. That doesn't mean that people aren't out and about: there are plenty of joggers, dog walkers, and couples taking romantic strolls. But all that is recreational; whenever folks want to get anywhere—even if it's the Whole Foods less than a mile away—they hop in their cars.
Though I suppose I can't blame them. According to famous walkability-rating website Walk Score our address comes in at 43, which is defined as "Car-Dependent". "Most errands require a car", the report tells us. Whether that assessment defines or reflects people's behavior, they're going to be driving most places. Which is kind of silly, because as well as the Whole Foods we can also walk to another grocery store, a library, a post office, a wide variety of restaurants (including an excellent ice cream store), playgrounds, and swimming, all in under a mile and a half. What else? Hardware store, office supplies, two TX Company clothing stores, even auto parts are within striking distance of our little suburban home. Sure, a mile and a half takes up to half an hour each way, but think of all the interesting sights you'll see as you stroll. And if things were any closer, it'd feel like we were living in the city. We don't really want to live in the city, see, and we'll walk a bit more if that means we can keep our big yard.
Not that we always have to walk. Thankfully, we also have bicycles, and today saw an important first for our family: we took three bikes out on an errand. Harvey is as yet limited to not much more than two miles round trip, and to the sidewalks and bike paths (he's also not really a fan of big hills right now—though, to be fair, neither is Leah when she's hauling both boys), but that's enough to get him some useful places. Even better, the rack on his bike lets him bring things home with him—today his cargo was only a real-estate flyer, sure, but the concept is sound.
Even with a four-year-old moving under his own power our cycling speed beats walking (to say nothing of the reduction in effort required), and when he's riding with Leah our rate and range is obviously improved tremendously. That means that, contra Walk Score, we don't require a car hardly at all; as it is we largely only drive to the cheap grocery store the next town over, to church, and to outings in the country. "Only"—it still comes out to an outing by car at least every other day, enough that I don't have any desire to join the ranks of the "car-free". Plus, how would we go on vacation?! Which is all good, because I recognize that my own limits are just as arbitrary as those of my neighbors who want to drive around the corner. I could do without a car altogether, but it would make my life harder; they probably feel the same way about walking to Whole Foods. Totally fair—to each his own. I'm just glad we live in a place that makes it so easy for those of us who want to to buck the non-walking trend.