“Slip slidin’ away,
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you slip slidin’ away”
- Simon, Paul. “Slip Slidin’ Away” Simon and Garfunkel
For years my father has run something called “Wednesday Walkers”. Someone used to be in charge before him, and then he took it over; choosing the hike locations, sending the e-mails, providing directions or links to maps, and putting notices in the local papers.
Two years ago, we had to join the hike late because we dropped my children off at camp first, so we only ran into them as we were coming and they were going.
Last year, I went with my father and other Wednesday Walkers to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: http://www.mainegardens.org/discover/explore-the-gardens. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, with unique sculptures that blended in with the natural surroundings and vegetables grown as art forms: http://www.mainegardens.org/discover/art-at-the-gardens/our-permanent-sculpture-collection
This summer we went to Laverna Preserve. When my father and I reached the meeting place in the parking lot, he was astounded to find twenty-six others waiting to be led on the hike. A record turnout. Last year I’d met a lovely woman who was also there this time. We spent much of the hike to the ocean talking. She knew I’d visited Paris, and so she told me about her year as a nanny there. After a time, we viewed the ocean but seemed to skirt it instead of descending. Concerns arose, but my father had planned a better place to climb:
I showed my father the picture and said, “This would make a great photo for the top of a Wednesday Walkers blog. Instead of e-mailing everyone, you could just update the information for each new hike, including links.”
My father shifted and said, “No, I don’t think so.”
“I could help you set it up,” I offered.
“Some people don’t even have e-mail, and they find out about the hikes from the newspaper.”
There are people who don’t have e-mail?
Most of these people have a good thirty + years on me. But somehow most don’t seem so far away in age. That should be scary. Then I thought about the high school students I’ve taught and how my time back then doesn’t feel so far away either.
Gasp. Is this middle age?
When is middle age? I must be too young for that. How long are people living nowadays?
There were signs that I was much, much younger than these hikers. For one, the hike was easier for me than for some of the others. But at the same time, I wonder if the hike will be as easy for me as it is for them when I’m their age. Many used walking sticks but this was more for balance than a sign of frailty. A few times I could’ve used one when teetering precariously on slats off wood over mud and swamp:
I’d worn a pair of thong sport sandals. They’re comfortable, with a padded foot, and a sturdy bottom, so I love to wear them on long walks and at rocky beaches. But to the untrained eye, these sandals looked like … flip-flops.
I cannot walk in flip-flops any better than I can in towering high heels. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why flip-flops are so popular. The bottom has no give. With each step, my foot moves while the rubber bottom sort of clomps along. The lack of real treads and me are not meant for each other. The few times I’ve tried wearing them they made me slide. The worst was when I carried laundry down skimpy steps to the basement when I was very pregnant, and the flip-flops caused me to fall on my butt. No more.
Many times, many of these 26 other walkers feared for my balance and safety:
“She’s wearing flip flops.”
“You’re wearing flip flops.”
“Why didn’t you wear hiking boots?”
“Now you know what to buy her for her birthday. HIKING BOOTS.”
“Are you going to be able to get over that in flip-flops?”
“They’re not flip-flops. They’re sandals.”
“I swear I wouldn’t wear flip-flops on a hike.”
“It’s too hot to wear hiking boots.”
I felt like that bunny in the book Not a Box, as if I could see what nobody else saw.
And in my non-flip-flop/sandals, I made it through just fine. I never even slipped into muck. Although when there was a warning sign, a hiker told me, “Watch out for poison ivy in those flip flops,” I kind of wished I had hiking boots.
I didn’t contract poison ivy. Whew.
When we returned to the parking lot, someone asked my father if it was true he was moving. He said he was. There were grumbles and murmurs of protest. I feel that way too. He’s carved a nice life for himself. I hope he can keep some of the good parts of his retirement as he moves on to his new place and life.
Besides, I’ve grown fond of Wednesday Walkers.
I think for the next hike I’m going to buy a pair of those L.L. Bean mesh top Mary Jane shoes recommended to me by the former nanny in Paris. My foot would be better covered, they can get wet, and they’re only $25. And, best of all, nobody will mistake them for flip-flops.