I own dogs - Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins.
I own dogs and therefore I walk. I walk the dogs. And I walk me, obviously.
Learning how to walk is one of the milestones on our journey from infancy to adulthood. So ordinary. So fundamental. So universally ... well, ... useful.
We walk to the sink to brush our teeth. We walk to the kettle to pour a hot drink. We walk to fall into the arms of those we love. We walk to work. We walk to the cinema.
We walk to ....
We don't always have to walk to do or achieve something.
We can walk aimlessly. In Old Scots this would be daundering, as in 'I go out for a wee daunder wi' my dugs.' Like this -
Walk - definition, (mostly) from online OED: verb - to move at a regular pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, while never having both or all feet off the ground at the same time (that would be a jump!)
In the English language, we have lots of words (... again, mostly from the OED) that mean walk - stroll, saunter, stride, stomp, amble, plod, trudge, tramp, trek, march, traipse, roam, shuffle, perambulate. That last is used frequently by the bipeds in my family to avoid the quadrupeds becoming overexcited when asking 'Is it time for a ...' and 'Fancy a ...' and 'Who'd like to come for a ... later?'
Per-am-bul-ate; a secret code word for walk. Or, per from latin, meaning through and ambulare, also from latin, meaning to walk. So perambulate means through walking. And this is the definition of walks that I like the most. It's not just the act of walking; the useful, (almost) universal, physical, one foot in front of the other purposeful travelling - the get me from a to b or away from c act of walking - but the through-walking perambulate that this walker wants to think on.
Yes, I walk - a target of 13,000 steps a day - every day. Yes, I take it for granted (and I realise the arrogance of that statement and that this discussion excludes all those who for some reason can't walk but stay with me because I think we all - if we can - also go for walks seeking entirely other intentions and outcomes). Yes, I walk for exercise. Yes, I walk because I want to have healthy dogs not dog-food-filled barrels on stick-legs. Yes, I walk because the dog-owning community expects me to. And I walk because this blog is called Walking the Dog and I have to have something to walk about. Hah! There it is ... something to walk about. It's the something to walk about that takes me on a walk far more frequently than the physical need: it is the mental need to walk. To think. To find answers and dreams and stillness and healing and ideas and stories and peace and existence through walking.
Nietzsche said, 'Only thoughts conceived while walking have value / All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.'
And Hippocrates claimed, 'Walking is a man's best medicine.'
I agree with both. Walking takes us out of our lives. It shows us things that we otherwise pass by without noticing. It gifts us time.
These pictures were taken on several recent soul-restoring walks (... 'soul-restoring', too much? Not if you consider the spring clean afforded to your head by fresh air, wind in your ears and the cutting beauty of sunlight and blue sky and the new green everywhere at this time of year that assaults your eyes. It's like you've taken the mess inside your head - stacks of half-thoughts and teetering pillars of emotions - to a mind-librarian and come away with catalogued shelves of ideas and a personalised re-written route-map for the future).
Three weeks ago, on a beach in Suffolk -
... 'never doubt the clouds will break' ... Robert Browning; slightly misquoted -
Perambulating affords us time to notice things. Reflections in a boat filled with rain-water
and sun highlighting the white gable edges and the winter-worn colours of beach huts against a back-drop of grey clouds.
'Each time he took a walk he felt as though he were leaving himself behind ... he was able to escape the obligation to think, and this, more than anything else, brought him a measure of peace, a salutary emptiness within ... ' Paul Auster
'Walk neither faster nor slower than your own soul. Because it is your soul that will teach you the usefulness of each step you take.' Paolo Coelho
From Suffolk to Staffordshire and the Dales. More clouds and more head space.
Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins walk in order to walk. And to keep in the company of their two-legged family members. They also walk to sniff and smell and stop at every tussock or gate post or puddle that takes their fancy. Slurry overspill was a particular favourite in the Dales. Like artisanal chocolate poured across the road, apparently.
A dog's rule of walking - shared with a Bear of Little Brain - is that 'It is more fun to walk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"'
... how close can we get to that sandwich?