Sunday, July 25, 2010


“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: 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:

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?”

My response:

“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’m okay.”

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.

My slides:


  1. *hee* I love all the helpful comments they gave you ;p My mum so would have said the 'now you know what to get her for her bday' line. I'm pretty sure I've heard it out of her mouth before *grin*

  2. Oh my gosh I love that they all commented on the fact that you were wearing flip flops! I'm with you I don't know how anyone can comfortably walk in them, I've bought a pair of comfortable oakley sandals and they call them flip flops but they are what you said... just sandals.

    I think the $25 mary janes sound you cute and comfy go for them!!

    As for hiking that sounds like a ton of fun, what a nice family and friend and stranger experience a chance to meet new people with family.

  3. Go for the Mary Janes, they're great shoes. And it sounds like Wednesday Walkers is a great thing. Your dad sounds like a great guy. :)

  4. I hate flip flops too. I don't think I've even tried to wear any since I was a kid. I hate anything between my toes. lol. But I've seen those sport sandals and I'd totally wear those.

    I know technically, I'm middle age, but in my mind, I'm still 21. A much wiser and confident 21. lol.

  5. @ Nicole, it was one of those times when people are trying to be helpful because they think we're not doing it right. I can't tell you how many times I was reprimanded for not bundling my babies correctly by strangers.

    @ Jen, if I wore flip-flops on a regular basis, I'd probably fall all the time.

    @ Sarahjayne, I should get those. The only downside is they have little holes at the bottom so bits of muck get in.

    @ Mary, if only we could be wise and confident at 21!

  6. Oh boy! I have to go there! It looks so beautiful.

    My parents don't have email-they don't have internet, so it's useless to them! But I feel like they miss out on so many things. Oh well.

    I have to say I love flip flops. I just bought three new pairs yesterday at Target. But everyone likes different things...

  7. LOL!! I'm SO middle-aged!! And I don't wear flip flops I wear FIT FLOPS! And I can't recommend them enough - I swear - I thought I'd hate them but they are the best for walking and for keeping fit!!!

    I love this Wednesday Walking that your dad does - brilliant!! And yes I'm flabbergasted when people don't have email accounts - it's like a must have these days!!!! Even my mum (a fervent technophobe) has one!!

    Good luck with your dad and his move - a new life, a new beginning!

    Take care

  8. I love the idea of Wednesday Walkers! That sounds like so much fun. I can't usually wear flip flops. I need more arch support, and my right foot and ankle are particularly wonky. What kind of sport sandals were you wearing? I'd like to check them out and see if they are a good alternative for me.

  9. I am completely with you! I hate them too, and never understood how people can wear them comfortably!

    I know, sometimes it stuns me too that people don't have email, but my dad is one of them, so I guess it's not as uncommon as we think.

    p.s. That picture is beautiful!

  10. @ Aubrie, so when your mom reads your manuscripts, I guess she gets a hard copy. That means she can't buy your ebooks!

    @ Old Kitty, I've been wanting to get the fit flops, but I didn't know if they were worth it. Anything to tone my butt!

    @ Surfie, I prefer arch support too. Plus my feet are narrow, so buying sandals is always hard. I added it to the post, but here's the link:

    @ WritingNut, my mother doesn't have e-mail either, but her twin got a computer for Christmas. And I can't think of anyone else I know who doesn't.

  11. Wow, that looks like a beautiful place to walk. I'm a walker, too, anywhere and anytime I can walk, I do. There's something so much more than the physical benefit to it that I love. And I'm completely with you on the flip-flops. I just don't get them, it's practically like walking barefoot. Which I'd rather not do in public places!

  12. How funny about the "flip flops" (and how frustrating, it sounds like.) I agree that flip flops are awkward to walk in. I prefer sandals, or any other shoe that's more secure to your foot. I've tripped too many times in flip flops. (But I still wear them, sadly.)

    Hope you've had a good weekend!

  13. How cool that your dad hosts this event, and sad that he won't be for too much longer. I checked out the links and loved the sculpture collection, especially the wolves and the cat. I'd love to go there one day. I also loved your slides. Lots of people I work with wear them. Flip flops cause skinned knees, on children AND me! I wear them at home.

    I know what you mean about age...I'm at a place that I feel very comfortable with older folks and younger ones. Maybe, instead of thinking 'middle aged' we're just more comfortable in our own skins...? Have a great week! I enjoyed your hike.

  14. I used to wear flip flops, but don't anymore. Somehow, that piece that goes between the toes now drives me crazy. $25 shoes would be well worth not having to answer the same question 30 times.

    Will you keep going on the Wednesday Walks once your father moves?

  15. "There are people who don't have E-mail?"

    That is the best quote on any blog I have seen in quite a while, and you did not even intend it.

    That is one reason why I read blogs: To find humorous nuggets like that no one else wants.

    Even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while.

  16. I have worn flip flops on many hikes. It's like going barefoot and you feel like an Indian in the woods. Sort of like riding a horse bare back. That aside, the Wednesday Walkers sound so fun. Only yes, older people need to stay with the times imho, and learning new skills LIKE EMAIL and how to operate a computer will keep them young just as much as hiking will. My mom is 93 and stays young for her age because she's not afraid to try new things. She has email, and everything!!

  17. What a lovely idea! I hope your dad is able to start a similar venture in his new place.

    Love the email line - hard to imagine isn't it? :)

  18. If I was to use that E-mail line in a novel "There are people who don't have E-mail?" I would be writing parody, so I would not be making fun of the elderly or technologically challenged, I would be making fun of the character who said it.

    Not you of course, Theresa. You are not a character. Hmmm. It's a funny line.

  19. @ Joanne, you're right about hiking being about more than exercise. Now that I live in a city I don't hike as often as I used to. I miss it. But last weekend I walked across the bridge to Boston and along the esplanade, and that was nice too.

    @ Shelley, I am having a nice weekend. I hope you are too.

    @ The Words Crafter, I have even better pictures of that place from my hike last year. Maybe I'll write a post as an excuse to show some of them.

    Yes, being comfortable in our own skins. That's a better way to put it!

    @ Helen, when you put it that way, I should definitely buy the shoes!

    I'm sure my dad will still go when the hikes are near him, but he may not run them. He won't be that far. I don't think I'd go without him.

  20. @ Walter, I did intend it to be funny. I know there are people without e-mail but virtually everyone I know has it + so I forget. Besides, my dad always sends out the e-mails so I figured all the hikers found out about the hikes that way.

    Feel free to make a clueless character say that line. It would be funny.

    @ KarenG, your mom sounds cool. I don't know anyone else who has e-mail in the 90s.

    And I'm impressed you can wear flip-flops on a hike. I would sprain or break something, or worse.

    @ Jemi, maybe he can expand the radius of the Wednesday Walkers. Right now, some of the people meet in his town and carpool to the location. He just doesn't want to have to meet in that town if he'll be far.

  21. I rarely wear flip-flops. I've twisted my ankle several times when the flimsy shoe somehow twists under my foot. Also, I walk a lot and there are numerous puddles in my area; it's unpleasant to skirt around them in flip flops. The yucky water lands on my toes.

    My parents don't have internet, even though I urge them to get it. They end up asking me to do internet-related tasks for them.

  22. Another name for flip-flops is thongs which can initiate interesting associations and hazards? I wish I could join the Wednesday Walkers group... Sounds exciting and exhilerating.

  23. Even though I like to dress nicely, I've never cared too much for nice shoes, so I mainly wear flats and yes, flip-flops. I love them because they go with any kind of casual outfit and they're super quick and easy to just slip on. I'm so used to them that I sometimes go on bike rides and mountain hiking in them. :]

  24. What beautiful photos! And I like the new look of your blog.

    Middle sons and I just had that conversation not too long ago. They tried convincing me I was middle aged, I disagreed!

  25. @ Walter, I'm glad to lend a potential line to your future book.

    @ Medeia, I read somewhere that flip-flops hold all the bacteria from the ground. But I suppose sandals do too. Besides, I don't think we can prevent exposure to plenty of bacteria.

    @ Paul C, the thong underwear may be the cruelest invention, EVER.

    I bet there's a hiking group near you.

    @ Amanda, I couldn't imagine riding a bike in flip-flops. I'm vertically challenged as it is.

    @ Julie, I think denial is best. Now my husband wants a motorcycle. Sounds like a mid-life crisis to me.

    I'm glad you like the new look. I don't know if I'm going to keep the picture. I ran out of time to play with it.

  26. What a great group!
    Sounds (and looks) like a glorious trip.

    Hiking boots are a definite must as far as I am concerned.

  27. What a lovely new look. It is great.

    I am a fit flop wearer. They really are comfortable for walking. Don't like flip flops. Like the sound of the LL Bean Mary Janes, will have to look into them.

    The Wednesday Walkers sounds like a wonderful idea. A mid-week adventure. Will your Dad start one wherever he is moving too?

  28. @ Al, if it's 80+ degrees, I'm not wearing hiking boots. Too hot!

    @ Ann, you and Old Kitty endorse fit flops. Now I want a pair!

    I went on the LL Bean site yesterday, but the mary janes were $39 and they weren't the same as the ones she had. Hers had little holes in the bottom.

    My dad hadn't planned on starting a new one. I think the walkers drive pretty far for hikes and he'll only be about 45 minutes north.

  29. I have a friend who wears heels ALL the time. Inside the house she has heeled slipper, she has heeled flip flops, and not only does she hike in heels she'd be likely to walk in heeled flip flops. The sad thing is that she's so used to heels that her body has accustomed itself to it, now it actually pains her to go barefoot.
    Of course if she goes hiking, she'll be wearing heels and everyone's patience by complaining that the group is going too fast. ; j She tends not to come on hikes.
    Sounds like a great walk, sandal/flip flop comments set aside.

    I love that song, slip sliding away, I make up lyrics for the tune as I fly through the streets...

  30. @ Alesa, hiking in heels. Even slow, that's impressive!

    I know someone who wore heels all the time but it made her calf muscles shorten or something, and then she had to have surgery and isn't allowed to wear heels anymore. That's my excuse for rarely wearing them.

  31. I suspect something similar (but perhaps less intense) happened to this person, except instead of having surgery, her husband is gradually helping her get used to normal shoes by very gradually cutting off pieces of the heels of her house-shoes. Last I heard she's down to half the height her heels used to be at a year ago.

  32. @ Alesa, is that really true?! I'd need to do the opposite in order to walk in heels over an inch!

  33. Flip flops are my love. I have a ton of them. What did we do without them. Love your photos. And as a retired teacher...I love subs too.
    Happy week.

  34. Yeah, really true.
    I went to her wedding last year. : j

    I don't wear heels either because I wouldn't be able to move around freely in them. I mostly only wear sneakers and inline skates. ; j

  35. @ Writing Without Periods, my stance on flip-flops is causing a lot of controversy!

    I'm glad you like the photos AND subs. Thanks for stopping by.

    @ Alesa, inline skates must leave you in excellent skates. I used to use mine but I haven't in years.

    I'm all about comfortable (but fashionable) shoes.

  36. Love the idea of Wednesday Walkers. I think you should go ahead and set up a web page anyway. (You know, with all your spare time....)

    Your dad sounds like a sweetie. I think the LL Bean shoes sound like a good idea, just to put everyone's mind at rest!

  37. @ Bossy Betty, if I set up a web page, I'll have to do ALL the work. I wonder if people would use it.

    I'm definitely going to reconsider my footwear for the next hike.

  38. Now I want to see a picture of these sandal/flip-flops!

    And I love it when older people give me their advice on what I'm doing wrong. I sort of want to laugh and retort all at the same time. Because I'm onery like that.

  39. LOL sounds like your group was plenty worried. Yeah, I buy those other shoes. I have hiked barefoot before. We do that here. In OZ. :)

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  40. I'm glad you didn't get poison ivy or a sprained ankle...

  41. Sounds like a great group of people. Maybe your dad can find some Wednesday Walkers by his new home?

  42. @ Jackee, the link for my sandals is at the bottom of my post. You'll see they're sturdy enough for a non-rigorous hike.

    I get ornery too!

    @ Tabitha, hiking in bare feet? Wow, you're tough there in OZ!

    @ Sharon, me too. I got those phantom itches for a few minutes.

    @ Susan, I'm going to tell my dad how many people are concerned about him leaving the Wednesday Walkers.

  43. The Wednesday Walkers sounds like so much of fun. I have hiked with just about any shoes. I have never gone for the hiking ones.
    Looks like a great place. Nice pictures.

  44. @ Mr. Stupid, thanks. If we were scaling more challenging hills, I would've worn sturdier footwear.