hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


July 19, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: Walking and talking make a good walk

Nothing stimulates me more than a good walk, especially when my grandchildren hit town.

In the midst of all the chaos and bedlam 5-and-unders can present, I encourage them to leave the house for a walk before they wreck it completely.

I usually take the boys, except when their 3-year-old sister wishes to tag along. "Me, too" she says. I have trouble keeping up with them.

One minute, they're hiding behind trees. The next, they're hop-scotching over rocks along the road. Much as I want to say I'm taking them for a walk, the reverse holds true. They're taking me for THEIR walk.

The same could be said for dog-walkers. People who walk their dog have it all backwards. The dogs wind up walking their owners — or so it seems. If it wasn't for dogs, some people would never go for a walk.

So off we go, the grand kids and I. Water bottles? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Hats? Check. Sneakers tied? Check. Chewing gum? Check. Snacks?

"Hold it a minute," I tell them. "This isn't a marathon. Snacks will be the treat when we return."

I use the walk time constructively. We'll play games along the route, like counting the American flags flying from people's homes. An abandoned soda can along the path introduces us to the problems of littering.

A chipmunk dashes by, followed by a squirrel. Birds chirp. A dog barks. These are the subtle sounds of outdoor life we grow to appreciate during our walk. Better still is the conversation I might entertain with the youngsters.

We'll talk about their T-ball accomplishments, school, play activities, books and movies they have seen. It's dialogue that can only be appreciated during our stroll —moments in time meant to be preserved and recalled.

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