Welcome to my RiverPath Blog, a sporadic output of my meandering mind. I plan to include snippets from my life, or excerpts from pieces I’m working on, or that I’ve published, maybe some work from other writers. I plan to stay away from politics, and, hopefully, religion. I like stories about people I’ve met along my way. Hopefully you will, too.
I appreciate your comments and feedback!
When a camp director, I lived on a lake every summer, sometimes year around, for twenty-five years. I distinctly remember the first summer I didn’t live on water. I felt odd, out of place as if something was missing. I loved my new job working with foster children, yet couldn’t describe the missing element. One morning, walking by a mix of farm fields and subdivisions, it came to me. I wasn’t living in the woods overlooking a lake. Next, it occurred I was now free to take a summer vacation. A rarity for camp directors. I began camping, always in places near water, and mostly in aged Airstreams or ancient motorhomes that looked like remnants from the dustbowl days seen in the Grapes of Wrath.
Fast forward twenty years. Recently retired, I moved to Beloit, Wisconsin to begin a new life with someone living in a condo overlooking the Rock River. A paved path followed the river through a magnificent park and returned on the other side of the river. I began walking it with Baxter, my half-Bichon, half-Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Over the next three years, we met many people—families, couples, elderly, joggers, people trying to jog, singles, dog-walkers—and Baxter insisted on introducing himself to each. For three years, around Beloit, I became known as the-man-who-walks-with-Baxter. Few remembered my name; it was irrelevant.
A year ago, Baxter died. It was unexpected until the vet and I realized he inherited the weak hearts Cavaliers are known for. Never detected or suspected, the vet was as shocked as I was. I quit walking. Explaining Baxter’s death to his legions of friends was painful. My CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) flared, my energy level dropped, I gained weight, I focused on the book I was writing. Lots of excuses, some valid, but still excuses.
This week, a year after Baxter’s death, I began walking the path again. Four days straight now. My partner and I increased the distance by two or so blocks each day. From one mile, we’re now up to one and three-quarters. Next week we’ll be at two. Are we hustling, swinging our arms, racing to be first? Nope. I occasionally pause to take photos. But we’re out there. The air is fresh. We’re meeting people, seeing dogs, straw-bossing and second guessing the construction projects along the way, examining the leaves, anticipating the flowers decline, noting the pigeons under the bridge now recognize us and don’t flee our approach. Like I said, at least we are out there and we do keep moving.