Saturday, December 1, 2007
Balk (Sunday Scribblings prompt: "walk")
According to what my parents used to tell their friends, my first word was "balk", the nearest I could come to pronouncing "walk." It's said that a child of less than three years does not form memories. Yet I feel sure that I remember back to those first toddler days when I would demand, "balk!" I meant that Daddy should stop the model T to let me stagger through ferns higher than my head, among the tall trunks and fragrant scents of the redwoods, with shafts of sunlight dancing on lower leaves of madrone and (sigh) poison oak. Many weekends we would drive over the summit of the Coast Range to Santa Cruz, the two-lane crooked road winding among just such tempting "balks." The floor of the forest might be studded with little gems of flowers such as trillium or calypso orchids, which my parents wisely, in those pre-ecology days, prevented me from picking.
I have never lost my taste for walking. I would like to make a distinction, though, between "walking" and "hiking". The latter implies destination goals and, frequently, strenuous exercise. "Walking" is a more leisurely pursuit, with time to savor each aspect of the landscape through which one is traveling - to stop to spot that warbling bird or to watch a chipmunk burying a morsel.
Even in the city, where I am more apt to walk these days, I want time to appreciate - and possibly photograph - beautiful gardens. Walking gives one a chance to become acquainted with one's neighbors, those who might be out gardening or washing a car. And at night one can catch glimpses of cosy interiors through lighted windows. At this time of year, decorated Christmas trees are a special treat.
Hike for exercise, I say, but walk for simple pleasures.