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My Shoes Are Made for Walking

Woman Walking“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow”
Henry David Thoreau
“If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish”
Charles Dickens
“Thoughts come clearly while one walks”
Thomas Mann

Walking has become a part of my daily routine – not just around the house but outside in my neighborhood or with friends whenever I can. The joys of walking are multitude. I greet neighbors walking their dogs. I am not a dog person (cats are my favorite) but have met some nice friendly well-behaved dogs. There is one orange and white cat who rules the street on my route and I delight seeing him roll in front of me on “his” street. I might hear or see a bird or two (and remember how much my husband enjoyed bird-watching) or check the local pond for ducks! I watch for hawks sitting high up in the trees or in the sky. I occasionally see our postman who has family on an island in Maine so, of course, I check in with him as I have a house on a Maine island. While walking last week a neighbor said “I have just read the best book – ‘News of the World’ by Paulette Jiles”. I exclaimed I loved that book and just recommended it in the Fireside Reads program at the library. I guess everyone knows I am a librarian and a book person! Walking lifts my spirits.

Sometimes I talk to myself to try to organize my thoughts on a particular problem or project. Occasionally I might compose a letter in my head to someone – a note of concern or thanks – often just the right words rise up. I do not count steps or have a ‘fitbit’. I just try to walk about 45 minutes a day. I like the comments about mindful walking – bring your attention to movement around you – wind, leaves, birds, clouds, people, colors – just helps to relax. Upon return home I always feel refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the rest of the day might bring.

Two special places for me to walk are Back Bay in Boston and the Cape Cod Canal. I worked at the Boston Public Library as did my husband and I have many many memories of walking along Boylston St. around Trinity Church up to the Public Garden and down Newbury Street poking my head in art galleries and shops. Those memories are vivid and pleasant. Over many years library colleagues and I have walked the Cape Cod Canal watching the water, boats, birds, and of course talking and also reminiscing. I also do recommend the Massachusetts Audubon sanctuaries for walking – check their website online for a sanctuary near you.

The library has many books on the subject of walking mostly in the travel section of 917. A few are “Historic Walks in Old Boston” by John Harris (917.44 Boston|Harris), “AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Berkshires” by Rene Laubach (917.44 Berkshires), and “Washington on Foot: 24 Walking Tours and Maps of Washington, DC” (917.53 Washington). On the shelves were books on walking on the Cape, my favorite state of Maine, and even walking tours of London and Paris. A different approach to walking is the book “Wanderlust: a History of Walking” by Rebecca Solnit (796.51 Solnit). The book profiles significant walkers in history and fiction – kind of a fun interesting way to think about walking. The book “Mindfulness on the Go – Inner Peace in Your Pocket” by Padraig O’Morain (158.12 O’Morain) has a short chapter on mindful walking which has shown one’s mood improves with whatever kind of walking one chooses.

I hope I have presented some ideas and resources to make walking a routine and pleasurable part of your daily life.

Margot Sullivan is a part-time Reference and Readers’ Advisory Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Margot’s column in the February 23, 2017 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.


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