I try to walk early each morning. Along the way, I often join up with an old friend or two. “Hey Kate,” I said one morning two weeks ago. “It’s been a long time. How are you doing?” She recognized my voice immediately, asking about Lyn, our three kids, and whether I was still teaching in the University of North Carolina system. Her memory is encyclopedic.

Kate Crohan has been walking the Chop for 40 years. For those of you who don’t remember her, she just happens to be blind. “Where are we, Kate?” I asked not long after joining her.

“About half a mile along East Chop Drive.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“The sound of the ocean. Isn’t it beautiful.”

Ten minutes later. “Okay, Kate. Where are we now?”

“Almost at the Lighthouse. Thirty-five years ago I would get winded walking up this hill. I’m in better shape now.” She was catching me up on her three boys, who are all doing well in different professions, when she abruptly changed the topic of conversation and asked: “When did this section of East Chop Drive become one-way?”

“About three years ago,” I replied. “How did you figure that out?”

“I keep bumping into the traffic cones.” I explained to her about the Bluff erosion problem, and when we got to Lincoln Park, I took her arm and led her on the bank so she could sense the problem with her walking stick. I watched in amazement for 45 minutes as she felt her way along the road with that stick.

When we got to the cement barrier at the intersection of Brewster avenue, I kept quiet and watched in awe as she successful navigated around it. “I kind of have a radar about things like that barrier,” she responded to my natural question.

As we approached the Beach Club, she immediately went for the sidewalk. “Too many parked cars at the Beach Club,” she said. At the Yacht Club driveway, she headed back to the road. Five minutes later I allowed her to run into a parked car. “Stop being so fascinating, Rick,” she said with a wide grin. “You’ve ruined my concentration.” As she regrouped and walked around the car, she said. “Mirrors are a real pain. I keep running into them.”

On the way to Our Market, she told me about her job with the Perkins School for the Blind and her life in Arlington. She is thriving in both situations. When we arrived at Our Market, we parted company. I led her to the path to the Ocean View. She was on her way to visit an old friend in her former neighborhood. Before leaving, she gave me a big hug and said: “If you have further questions, just email me,” and she gave me her address.

“You do email?” I asked.

“Oh sure,” she replied. “I can read them four different ways.” Walking with people like Kate Crohan is the reason I love to write this column.

On a much sadder note, we lost Nan Winkelman on July 4. Nan had suffered from vascular disease for several years. She went into Mass General confident, in no pain, to have an aortic aneurism repaired. Sadly, she did not recover from the second procedure to address the circulation problems in her legs. Old timers remember her as a gifted swimmer. We all will never forget the smile that lit up her face every time you encountered her. As I hugged Wink just before leaving their home on Winemack avenue, I couldn’t help but think that I had just spent 20 minutes with a real class act.

Send East Chop news to herricklr@verizon.net.