A recent rainstorm coupled with drought hardened ground, and neglect in keeping rain gutters clean, combined to fill my basement with water. A few hours of after-midnight cleanup and 18 trips carrying a Shop-Vac up steps to empty was all that was necessary to create a returning patient for my chiropractor.
I have an old yoga book that I’ve glanced at a few times over the last 25 years when the idea I should care for my body takes hold. There’s a line etched in my memory — “You’re as young as your spine is flexible.”
I’m not too young.
A week of incapacity and riding-free life has passed. Mornings of struggle to get out of bed and strategies to get dog food bowls to the floor have passed. New ways to tie shoes were developed and standing up straight is a reason to celebrate. I’ve been walking slowly through the garden to help limber the lower back and hips while hoping the dogs don’t run into me as I play the fragile aging man. And from this place of woe an old friend emerged — my faithful walking stick.
I’ve had this walking stick since the early 1980s. It’s a long staff reaching almost to my shoulder and has travelled along on many hikes and backpacking trips. It’s tapped along the Maine coast and the Appalachian Trail. Now it provides welcome support to an otherwise shaky existence.
The back is much improved but I’ve come to appreciate the form and function of a walking stick. I’ve often wondered why people use a cane when a walking stick is far superior. You can lean on it, pull yourself up, and keep an angry dog at bay with it. It is a damn function bit of technology.
The Complete Walker
My love of walking sticks grew out of books by Colin Fletcher, especially The Complete Walker. This book fueled a love of walking and hiking and is full of stories and reflections of a life on foot. Between the lines of much of what I write is the influence of Fletcher.
The morning may bring enough back recovery to consider riding to work. If I do, the walking stick will have to stay at home with the dogs…