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By LeRoy Chatfield

I enjoy walking!

For more than 25 years, walking has been my only form of exercise.  I don’t play golf, I am not comfortable working out in a gym-setting with other people, or doing different kinds of repetitive exercises over and over,  again and again. I don’t for a minute question their efficacy – most of my friends and neighbors love going to the gym and don’t miss a day working out. But for my part,  I feel cooped up, trapped, stationary and non-productive –  I would rather walk in the outdoors to see what I see, and to think about things. What things, you ask?  Just simple stuff – things I wonder about, worry about or  am upset about and more often than not,  things I want to write about. 

Walking is my meditation period.

For 20-years, Dr. Mui of Kaiser Permanente – the most solicitious and caring doctor I ever had – would quiz me during each visit: How often do you walk? How far? How fast?  Then he would update my medical chart: Every day; 3 miles per day;  5 miles on Sunday; One hour.

And after each visit, before he would let me leave his office, he would give me a pep talk about how important walking was for my health, and how pleased he was I was keeping up my daily walking. He hoped  I would continue. Dr. Mui spoke always softly and very sincerely: “Mr. Chatfield, it is very important for you to keep walking!  Thank you for taking care of your health.”

Dr. Mui need not worry. My faithful dog, Fergus, will not let a day pass without walking me. When he feels it is time for us to walk,  he will   nudge me, walk to and fro, until I get up out of my easy chair,   put on my hat, find his leash, select  a couple of treats and put a couple of doggie bags in my pocket and say: OK, Fergus, let’s go! 

Now the shoe is on the other foot!  Our daily pre-walk ritual begins. Who said I wanted to go on a walk? Fergus retreats to the living room to look aimlessly out the front window, he pays me no attention, he doesn’t come.    I wait for a bit and finally, very leisurely, he ambles up to me  but passes me by and retreats back to the living room to look out the window again. Now we have a stand-off, who will give in first? 

Today I decide to be the stubborn one and stand stock still and say nothing, I ignore him, he doesn’t even exist.  Finally, he gives up,  looks back at me, performs a leisurely yoga-worthy perfect  downward dog before coming  to put his head through the outstretched  collar. Now, we are in sync, both ready to go.

For more than 45-years – in 4 different homes – I have lived in this Pleasant Drive neighborhood of Sacramento, just 7-tenths of a mile from a 250 acre regional park – William Land Park – touted by the City as Sacramento’s Crown Jewel of parks. I love the park, but Crown Jewel, it is not!  Just ask me.

To avoid monotony, Fergus and I have staked out three different 3-mile door-to-door routes – the Sacramento River, the William Land Park and the Freeport Boulevard. These past couple of years I have slowed down a bit, don’t walk as fast and even sometimes run out of gas so we have appointed certain benches or other places to sit, so we can take a break and I can check my phone and thank Fergus with a treat . . . or two.

Regardless of the route taken, I am never bored and never fail to see something new – a 50-year old shake roof being taken off to make way for a stylish composition roof; a “sale pending” sign in front of a home that I thought would never sell at that price; yet another drought resistant landscape being installed that I can see will cost the owner a pretty penny; a house just last year condemned by the City as uninhabitable being lovingly brought back to life and restored by a small, one pickup contractor and his dog.

Yes, I know these observations are pretty commonplace and not very newsworthy, but let’s face it, at my advanced age it is more and more as time goes by, a question of bandwidth, energy level, and staying power.

Thank you, Dr. Mui ~ I am still walking every day!







Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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