Rain and warm tropical air swept into New Hampshire last night, melting the snow and creating swirls of thick radiation fog that muted the Christmas lights twinkling throughout the neighborhood. It’s been awhile since I walked after 10 PM on the street, and there are reasons. Mostly it’s the loss of Bodhi, who was my walking buddy for 14 years. This was our time to be outside watching the sky change and listening to the faraway sounds of a car moving down the road or a train rumbling along on its way between Boston and Maine. That track is five miles away with hills and valleys separating us, but you can hear that freight train in the still of the night. Last night offered nothing but quiet and drifts of fog and tropical warmth stroking your face as you walked. Strange, this feeling, when there’s a foot of snow still on the ground.
I’ve refocused on that 10,000 step objective. I need to move more, and it’s a good round number. I now use an Apple Watch to track, a gift from my wife, instead of the Fitbit, which was also a gift from my wife (which in turn replaced an older model Fitbit, also, you guessed it, a gift from my wife – I believe she might be telling me something). We rarely walk together; she’s a runner and gets her miles in that way, I’m a never runner and get my miles the slower way. Embrace your differences and the marriage works. And this difference had me walking while she was shopping. I’d rowed 5000 meters at lunchtime, so I didn’t feel I needed a workout as much as I needed to keep the streak alive. Life gets busy, and goals can slip away in the frenzy of a workweek, and especially during the holidays. Would I love to be hiking in the White Mountains or on the Appalachian Trail every day, or on edge of the surf line on the beach? Of course, but I’m working with what I have, where I am. And where I am is not so bad. I tell myself that a lot in all things, not just walking. You become reflective and grateful when you walk far enough.
I don’t take it for granted, this ability to walk at 10 PM down the middle of the street, with little thought to my personal safety. When you live on a cul du sac in a small New Hampshire town this is what you get, but I remain the only walker. Neighbors are watching television, reading or sleeping, and you can tell which by the flicker of light against a window or the darkened house. The neighborhood is aging, and that shift is apparent at 10 PM on a Monday night. Most of the kids have grown and moved away, or are away at college. Those who moved in with younger kids have them tucked in bed while their parent’s shop online for gifts. And I’d be tucked in bed myself, but for this 10,000 step box I have to check. Conflicting goals of getting more sleep and checking a box.. but the walk will help the sleep and so I go. I’d walked around the inside of the house for a few minutes, thought about how ridiculous it was for me to do laps around the living room and kitchen and slipped my raincoat on and went outside. And as the pedometer on my watch moved past 10K and I turned to home I remembered the joy of walking on a quiet night, now just me and my thoughts.