When I was a kid living in the country, I counted on Dad for rides into town to meet my friends. He'd look down at me kneeling on the floor, begging and whining, and say, "Walking's not crowded."
In the decades since, I've had several cars that I've driven thousands of miles meeting friends in various states, places and locales.
Recently, I drove to the doctor's office for the usual check-up. The doctor cringed when I stepped onto his scale, which must have been old because it creaked and swayed.
The doctor peered over my charts down at me kneeling on the floor, begging and whining not to be put on a cardboard-and-lettuce diet, and said, "Walking's not crowded."
It wasn't a suggestion.
It turns out that Dad and Doc were right - walking isn't crowded. Nor is it all that healthy.
At walking speed, you can say hello as you walk by the neighbors working in their yards, painting houses, digging ditches, building additions and the like.
"Wish I could help, but I'm supposed to be walking. Bye, now!"
This is how walking can lead to running - trying to outdistance neighbors bearing tools.
While you're running, you'll notice the dogs. Some dogs run with you, their tails wagging and tongues flapping.
It's the dogs who don't wag and flap that bother me.
On one walk, two dogs trapped me in the roadway, snarling and snapping, one at my front, one at my back. When I turned, they turned, so that one always was at my back.
"It's a public highway!" I yelled. "With potholes! It's not worth guarding!"
Finally, a guy passing in a pickup truck blocked the dogs so I could make my escape.
True, the dogs helped increase my heart rate considerably. But I didn't want to be that healthy.
My wife often walks with me. Hoofing it alongside one farm, we saw three deer grazing in the side yard. We stopped. The two smaller deer kept eating, but the buck started inching toward us, apparently in the hopes that we were concealing corn.
We weren't. It was a small buck, only four or five points on his rack. Still, he'd only need one of those points to make his point that he was disappointed in our inattentiveness to his luncheon plans.
Then a motorcycle roared by. The deer scattered, the buck giving up his plans to mug us.
My wife is always on the lookout for discarded treasures when we walk. Once, we wandered past a thick winter glove lying in the ditch.
"Leave it," I said.
But three dozen steps later, we passed the matching glove. So on the way back, she picked them both up. Those are my new winter gloves.
"Those ratty shoes aren't my size," I yelped when I saw that scavenger look in her eye on another walk.
"Not the shoes. That big rock. Wouldn't it make a great landscaping rock! Do you think you could ... "
"No!" I snapped. "Well, maybe if I could get a motorcycle. With a tow wagon "
"Walking shoes are cheaper than motorcycles," she said. "Walking's healthier."
''And," she said, "walking's not crowded."
No, it isn't. And I think I see why.
----- Take a hike with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.