Walking in the Time of Covid-19

Well, Americans won’t be walking in Europe! Not just because the worldwide pandemic makes travel dodgy – but because the EU has banned Americans. While European countries largely contained the coronavirus, as we know the U.S. did not. American (presidential) incompetence and recklessness allowed unnecessary and tragic COVID-19 infections. A bad situation, getting worse. Denial, lies, and obfuscation prove poor tools for virus fighting.

Exclusion from Europe is just one way American esteem has fallen in the world under this administration. Aside from other bad presidential moments – George Bush in Iraq comes to mind – Europeans always greeted us and our tourist ways with friendliness and curiosity. This, too, shall pass, and if one isn’t too old, travel will happen again – a new president and a controlled virus will encourage summertime in British gardens, hot nights in Italy, train rides through countrysides, and walks in Irish rain.

Ordinary days merge together in routine, but trips with walks leave indelible impressions. For a decade, with our increasingly complex family – first adding wives, then one child, then two, then three – memorable moments of stress and joy accompanied those trips. Selfishly I’d so hoped for more with all four grandchildren.

But meantime, in a treasured second life of travel – trip memories come on my daily walks this summer – footfalls as madeleines. My island walk has variety, and, in some form of compensatory thinking, invites remembering – stirred by my footsteps on pavement, outdoor café seating (lots of that now), and flower filled window boxes. Beside a body of water, I stop to gaze over the harbor as we might have stopped over a promontory and considered the valley below.

I climb hills, lots of hills, and down again through a new neighborhood catching glimpses of lived lives, lush gardens and inviting porches. I discover commuters’ connecting trails –– and a root-riddled path through a patch of woods, trees and undergrowth close, for a moment like a forest in an unknown place. I try to stop the internal fret and let my mind go – rainy days bring the sound of wind and rain flapping my hood, poles hitting the ground – and hot days, sun on my back walking up a hill, I expect vineyards instead of 50s ramblers and basketball hoops.

It works a little. I’m very grateful for all there is and all there was – but for sure, I’d rather be walking with Beowulf.

7 thoughts on “Walking in the Time of Covid-19

  1. Thanks for sharing positive thoughts of your walks through the island. We are lucky to be right here.

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  2. Such wonderful memories you have of family adventures. I hope you will have more with all four grandchildren too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a great post. And Beowulf would be a wonderful walking companion. I am grateful for the daily walks in the same way you are for yours. In Portland we loved discovering new places as we walked through nearly traffic-free neighborhoods. Here in Alaska the walks seem same old same old, but still there are new sights if you take the time to look – seagull babies fledged from the nest being watched over by flocks of adults, peonies just starting to gain fullness, friends who smile with their eyes above their masks. And then, as you say, the memories of other treks in other far away places come and help quiet the mind. My husband, who is a man of few words these days, says “I love these walks.”

    • Thank you Carol, and that’s a good recognition of what’s important – short statement “I love these walks.” Sometimes if I have to miss one through poor scheduling, I spend the day disorganized! After immobility last year, I will never take one foot in front of the other, repeat, for granted!

  4. Katy, I love the way you take us along on your in place and around the world walking adventures. I’ve felt like a child again in some of those exploratory moments you describe…we see something anew in the places we live. Last week, when we were experiencing warm evenings on the McKenzie River, the setting sun illuminated a very tall spider’s web drifting above the water, a light breeze, moving it upstream. As it slowly sailed past us, it caught hundreds of no see ums…so clever. I’m sure the spider had parachuted outward and spun its net. I’m not sure how it made it back to shore with its catch.

    On the other hand, the not unexpected but disturbing announcement of our being banned from travel in the EU, meant that this morning I cancelled the hotel reservations I still had in place for an October trip to Italy which my daughter, Katie, had given me at Christmas. We would have had a wonderful time for two weeks. We both studied and worked in Italy and we’ve returned there several times together. We have close friends in Rome too and I just wrote them we wouldn’t be coming.

    Beowulf looks as if he would be up for another walking adventure with you! Every time you share your postcards and illustrations of and for the grandchildren, I think of how fortunate they are to have you as their grandmother, documenting your and their lives with such love and artistry.

    I’m trying to believe “All things shall be well, all matter of things shall be well.”

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