Chronicles of Whistling Duck Cottage
Week Seven — Walking to New York
Week Thirty-Two of 52-Week Writing Challenge
All Photos by Dennett
Each year, my husband and I go to New Jersey/New York. Well, we didn’t last year due to my increased grandchild-care duties while my daughter was working and going to school full-time and due to an unusually busy year of work. But, point is, our trip to Yankee country is the only big vacation (more than a long weekend) that we take, and this year we are booked to be there in October — my favorite Manhattan month.
Since my mother-in-law’s passing, we stay with Ben’s daughter and son-in-law in New Jersey and take the train to Manhattan every morning, where we spend the day walking miles on the city streets and in the glorious NYC parks.
Each year, my intention is to start a serious walking regiment at least a month in advance of our trip so that the switch from desk-worker to city-walker will be less painful. I never do. Hence, unprepared for hours on my feet, each day in the city leaves me with intense leg and back pain, rendering me sleepless during the night, only to wake in the morning and do it again.
Now that my daughter and grandchildren no longer live with us, my schedule is less hectic, more flexible, and MINE — well, except for the 50+ hour workweek and caring for five pets and household duties and grandkids on Saturdays — but compared to the past few years, I feel free!
Once we settled in our new place, I finally began the walking routine I’ve talked about for years. Each morning, I walk two miles along the very walkable streets of our neighborhood. In the evenings, if I arrive home before dark, I walk another mile or two.
As I walk, I listen to a book on Audible, pausing from time-to-time to greet a neighbor or a neighbor’s dog or to take photos. My goal is to photograph the change of seasons on my walks. And, yes, we do have seasonal changes in Florida!
When I started walking three weeks ago, the air was always heavy with heat and humidity even though the sun was just poking up from the horizon. A post-walk shower was a necessity. Now, just 21 days later, the air has changed — there is a tinge of coolness, barely perceptible but present nonetheless. The shadows are longer. Fall, still far away for us, is influencing the summer hours of August.
Our days still scream Summer with temperatures well in the 90’s and heat indexes often in the low 100’s, but the mornings are more welcoming. A post-walk shower, however, is still nonnegotiable.
There are several man-made lakes along my walk, plenty of ducks, lots of neighbors walking dogs, a few joggers, and a few other walkers like me, getting a little exercise and enjoying the waning days of summer.
My walk not only is getting me ready for New York, but it is giving me a sense of community here. I no longer feel like a come-here in my new neighborhood; I feel like a member of this community. As I chronicle my walks I notice something different everyday and discoveries that one day will not be new and probably won’t be as noticeable to me.
Yesterday, while I was working, my husband walked through our old neighborhood. He was shocked at the changes since we moved the beginning of June. Many of the changes he may not have noted if he were still living there, walking the sidewalks daily. We tend to become mindless when everything around us seems ordinary. One day, our new neighborhood and all its wildlife may become routine, and I won’t notice a duck peeking at me through the bushes.
Right now, I am enjoying the intense mindfulness of my walks. This place is still new to me, and I am new to it. Each walk is an adventure. I am dedicated to remembering the newness of this place.
And, as I walk, I delight in knowing I am walking my way to New York!