Walking is the perfect exercise. And while I’m sure that many doctors and fitness professionals can provide numerous reasons why, to me, it is perfect because it doesn’t feel like exercise. I associate walking with good things like walking to the fridge to sneak the last piece of cake, walking from store to store at the mall, and buying new shoes to help facilitate the walking process. Last year we moved to our current home – a beautiful private retreat amidst hundreds of pine trees overlooking the lake. Today, the colours of fall are in full bloom with vibrant red, orange, and yellow leaves blanketing the landscape. I yearn to go for a blissful walk throughout my neighbourhood, smiling at little children, patting a friendly dog on the head, greeting a new neighbour, all the while basking in the spectacular views of the lake and the city beyond. Somehow, from somewhere, the theme song from the Mary Tyler Moore Show plays in time with my lively step. I return home not just refreshed, but invigorated and energized. And despite not having eaten in a few hours, I feel quite full as well. But this is not to be as the road slopes up at what seems like a 45-degree angle. At the last house on the street, I feel like I’m living at the base of Mount Everest. Now I know why they call it that – Ever Rest. Every ten steps requires a ten-minute break. Although, it’s a mere mile and a half, I can’t even walk to the store on this terrain. Wait until it snows and we add ice and slush to the mix. As we live along an easement, we’re lucky to get garbage removal; but snow removal? That’s the sun’s job, and she’s on vacation until spring. I miss the days when we lived just a half block from a 10-mile stretch of flat, linear path in a wooded area alongside a creek. We walked that path daily and nightly, rain or shine, fat or thin. Then it became popular and over-populated. Having to dodge people, dogs and horses made it tedious. Plus the occasional snakes and bears made it terrifying. Sometimes we drive down to the beach and walk along the path by the shoreline. And while enjoyable, it defeats the spontaneity and simplicity of a walk around the block. But I have chosen to be determined rather than deterred. Last week I thought I would give it a try and head up the road. By the time I reached the halfway mark, I decided to turn around, fearing I would be accosted by the big, hairy monster that charges in front of my car every morning. And as if the ridiculously steep incline on our road wasn’t enough to keep me from enjoying a walk in the great outdoors, now nature has roared again. Over the past two weeks, our next-door neighbour spotted not one, but TWO black bears on several separate occasions trekking down our driveway and through our backyard. The flowers will die before I go out to water them. I can’t set foot out the door without whistling, jangling my keys and talking loudly to myself like some kind of lunatic in fear of bear feet on the lawn. I searched the Internet to find out when bears hibernate, only to discover they don’t really hibernate at all! Then I checked my address on walkscore.com, a website that measures your neighbourhood’s “walkability.” It ranks a pitiful 17 out of 100. This confirms it. I am a car-dependent person living in a car-dependent region. I feel much safer inside a ton of steel on four wheels. And for now, that’s how I will be navigating through this neighbourhood. Thanks walkscore!
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