At a dinner party recently, I listened as the person next to me answered my standard dinner party question: what brought you to the Vineyard?
The response: “I wanted to go someplace where I could walk a little slower.”
It made me stop and think.
I myself am a fast walker. And this time of year, I walk on the street because the sidewalks are clogged with summertime dawdlers and packs of window shoppers. They slow me down.
On a recent (and rare) day off, I went to the beach with a friend. When we got out of the car, we were walking side by side. A few strides in, he stopped to take off his flip flops. The distance between us began to grow. As we got near the water, he fell further behind. Determined to find the perfect spot on the sand and get into the water, I kept moving. Eventually he called out to me: “You walk fast!”
I paused, waiting for him to catch up.
Being a fast walker does not mean failing to take stock of the world around you, natural and otherwise. It’s all about keeping the head up, taking in buildings, watching for the first shades of pink creeping into the evening sky, noticing new buds and flowers that pop up alongside favorite trails.
In fact, I believe walking briskly forces a person to observe her surroundings more sharply — with such limited time in one spot, constant vigilance is in order. Otherwise you may miss the hummingbird flitting by or the dragonfly hovering on the lip of Ice House pond on a midsummer evening.
Back at the dinner party, I lthought about living in a place where the walking is a bit slower. And I realized that I too love to live here because it is a place where I can walk slowly. I choose not to, but I like knowing that I can. And I like that the people around me do too. Even if it means having to walk in the street in summer, dodging strollers and cars and lackadaisical day-trippers.