I grew up in a small town in Ohio. My house was on a street within walking distance of the village green. The town had been purposely designed to resemble the New England village of the original settlers who came in 1799 from Connecticut. Most all the houses were white clapboard with black shutters. A stately brick clocktower anchored one corner of the village green. Grand old elms, maples and oaks lined the sidewalks. In the spring, when fully leafed out, the trees canopied the streets in graceful shade.
I often stood at my kitchen window, relishing the change of seasons, an annual parade of wonder. Winter is my favorite. The white cottony blanket of the first snowfall magically covers the last debris of autumn. Snow brings a certain quiet to life, making everyone slow down. As one who values a slower pace, winter fills me with gratitude for orchestrating that.
Sometimes on Sunday mornings, I would see the family that lived up the street come walking by. Mother, father, two sons and a daughter. I watched them for years. Even after the children grew up, they still took walks together. I had no idea where they were going - church? out for breakfast? or just enjoying some time together with no destination in mind - either way, I often thought how that simple act of walking together kept that family grounded. Walking does that. The touch of the earth beneath your feet, the motion of one another’s gait, sharing the same sights and sounds as you go along - walking is one of the best activities to do together, and it costs nothing but the time you put in.
When I grew up and had children of my own, I took them on Saturday afternoon walks. We lived near downtown Berkeley. We’d head for Shattuck Avenue to Edy's ice cream parlor. I’d let the children order whatever they wanted. All I wanted was to build sweet memories for them as wonderful as I had.