A couple of years ago as spring began making its presence known where I live, a day of bad news in the world sent me outside for a walk to clear my head and make some sense of all that was happening. I ended up on a park bench across Raccoon Creek from the village park, watching people doing things like fishing, using the playground equipment and knocking a baseball around on the far diamond.
The walk and witnessing everyday recreation did a lot to cheer me up, and as I recall, I shared my impressions on Facebook. After spending a winter pretty much locked up inside, I too found the outdoors on a bright March afternoon a great place first to escape, then come to terms with the insanity we see beyond our corner of the U.S.A.
I and many others had rediscovered the therapeutic effect of communing with nature as it awakened from a prolonged slumber. For a deeper look, I’d recommend Walt Whitman in addition to other poets and authors who have explored the meaning of our connection to the environment. Their insights add to the appreciation of what we have in our midst, especially as we emerge from what seems like an extended winter and all of the poor health it helped cause.
Taking a walk, even if the weather isn’t as cooperative as it should, is not only terrific for physical reasons but for mental well-being as well. I’ll take as evidence the benefit you obtain from a stroll on your nearest walking trail, wooded path, street or road, because if you are alone the act of walking and soaking in the surroundings prompts thought and reflection. Not that walking singly is the best advice for everyone; being accompanied by a spouse or friend offers a neat distraction from the day’s cares.
But there are occasions when, to quote a good friend and avid walker, you are your own best company. The combination of activity with isolation helps stimulate thoughts ranging from problem-solving to what’s for dinner later on. This is not a conclusion from medical or any other kind of science. I’m simply talking about my own experience when I’ve often used the exercise to hash out a writing project so I don’t start out cold with little idea of where to go next.
And taking a walk can allow you to think about nothing at all when you’ve spent the whole day up to that point using the old noggin for various and sundry reasons. Only recently, we have learned that caregivers for family members are advised to take a 10-minute ramble when things become too hectic. It is a proven stress reliever.
The impact of walking on personal health is well-documented, and you can’t help but believe there’s something to it given the number of people you see doing so. If you’re looking for development of strength and agility, then by all means enroll at the gym and avail yourself of the equipment designed to help reach your goal.
But if you’re not into what was once called physical culture and want a less demanding means of preserving your health, then try walking. For wrecks such as myself who have survived a pair of heart attacks, walking is a do-able activity. You may not believe you’ve done yourself a favor when it’s over and can’t wait to sit down, but the good is already taking effect. Think of all of the calories you’ve burned and you’ll be wanting to head out again.
As the weather becomes more seasonal, floodwaters recede and checking the bathroom scales becomes an increasingly grim task, think about walking. Hopefully you’ll agree with me it’s for the best.
Speaking of walking, do some at the annual Buckeye Hills Career Center Expo this weekend in Rio Grande. Open Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m., the expo features everything spring-related from lawn equipment displays and demonstrations, greenhouse sales and crafts to such sidelights as health care checks, adult education and games.
Staff and students work hard to make the expo offer something for everyone, and with a mostly pleasant forecast in store for the length of the event, it’s well worth your time to make the trip. As always, your participation is appreciated.
A quick local news item of early last week noted the passing of entertainer and comedian Chuck McCann at 83 on April 8. The name may not mean much to local TV viewers, but for a kid such as myself watching children’s programming from New York City in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Chuck was just this big, friendly, amazingly talented guy who knew how to get a laugh by simply changing his facial expression.
Be it dressing up as Little Orphan Annie (including a curly wig and white tabs covering his eyes for an unforgettably surreal effect) to rushing out of the TV studio to climb atop a taxicab and point to the direction he wanted to go, Chuck worked hard to establish himself with Big Apple audiences before heading out to Hollywood. There he flourished over the years as a voice artist, actor and all-around funnyman who gave one of the best-ever impressions of Oliver Hardy from the premier movie comedy team of the 1920s and ’30s, Laurel and Hardy.
Rest in peace, Chuck, and thanks for those memories of late weekday afternoons and Sunday mornings, back in the day.
Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.