Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Walking

Before England, the longest winter walks I did were from our apartment to the car.

Apartment to car. Drive to work. Walk from car to school. Teach. Walk from school to car. Home. Walk from car to apartment.

And that ultimately included most of my outdoor time, except for the occasional play-time in the snow. But if there was ever a place to go, amidst 20-degree weather, there was no way I was going to actively choose to walk there.

Now, all that has changed. In the absence of a car, our feet must bear the brunt of most travel.

And I love it.

Last night, Jennifer, Tyler, and I all took the 25 minute stroll to the Fishergate area of York, to visit another couple with a young child. It was an evening outing, and the icy air combined with the pitch-black sky (already!) made it feel like something of an adventure.

By the time we arrived to the other family's home, being welcomed in and served tea and crumpets while our children ran around, playing with toys and other objects-that-could-become-toys, the warmth that engulfed us made the walk there that much more special for some reason.

To go from the coldness of the outdoor air into the warmth of a home is, perhaps, one of life's greater joys.

As the evening progressed, Tyler became ever sillier, shouting out, "I like cows!" to which he wanted Jen and I to respond, "I like cows, too!"

Tyler: I like couch!

Luke: I like couch, too!

Jen: I like couch, too!

Tyler: Kate?

Kate: (the mother of the other child): I like it, too, Tyler.

Tyler: Phil?

Phil: (the father of the other child): Yup, me too.

Tyler: May?

May (the one-year old daughter): Aaahh!

Tyler: I like cookies!


By the time we said goodbye, and entered the frigid air again, the walk home felt, well, kind of giddy. At 7pm on a Saturday night, here was my wife, myself, and our son walking along Fulford Road in York, the large busses streaming past, the night sky sparkling, the moon fresh and full.

Arriving home, yes: we cranked our heat.

Tyler built with his blocks while Jen and I talked about how much stinking fun it was to walk.

Just to walk.

Then, this morning, as we all arose to go to St. Oswald's church, we layered ourselves for another walk.

And finally, this afternoon, we bundled up once more for a trek to a local farm to get our Christmas tree. Tyler knew exactly which tree he wanted. He pointed to it, and even though its top was sparse, Tyler was assured it was the best one of the lot.

As we wrapped it securely in the stroller, and Tyler hung out on my shoulders, the walk home felt good. It felt fresh.

Yes, it also felt incredibly cold.

But entering our warm little home, I felt the rush of gratefulness that comes when you travel from one extreme to the other, and I wouldn't trade anything for such a journey.

Especially not a cold walk or two.

(Or three.)