Walk To School Day
by Tanya Ward Goodman
I walked my daughter to school this morning. We left forty minutes early and took a circuitous mile long route from our house to her elementary school. We crossed several big streets including Sunset Boulevard and for a few moments found ourselves darting like small fish in a fast moving school of seventh and eighth graders. Our dogs crisscrossed in front of us, their nostrils flared to take in every scent of the morning. Car exhaust and taco wrappers and freshly mown grass mingled with the urine of the dogs that came before and the coffee spilled by a drowsy commuter.
It was International Walk to School Day. It was a day to think about ramping up exercise, rolling back car use. It was a day to be neighborly. We exchanged a “good morning” with everyone we met.
It was a good day for a walk. My children will tell you that I believe it is always a good day for a walk. I like to travel through my neighborhood on foot. It’s good to see things that I miss from my car window. Today we stopped to admire a juniper shrub.
“It’s like a snowflake,” my daughter said, stroking the lacy green.
We saw a lone sock and a bit later, a single shoe. Someone had stenciled “you are loved,” on the sidewalk. In one yard palm trees peeked over the top of a tall hedge and my daughter made up a story about people growing giant pineapples.
“I don’t like pineapples,” she said, “But a giant one would be good.”
We met a dog that looked like a raccoon and another with a gray muzzle and rheumy eyes. We passed two men in freshly ironed blue dress shirts and, later an elderly couple navigating their course with the help of twin bamboo canes. There were babies in strollers and a kindergartner on a scooter who pushed his rubbed down yellow Croc against the pavement for speed.
I dropped my daughter at the gate and headed for home. I saw a flock of pigeons and a homeless man with dirty legs. I said “hello” to a couple of window washers and a man with a sledgehammer on the balcony of an apartment building. The dogs stopped to press their noses against the base of a tree and a few blocks after that, a light post. They attempted to nibble the edges of a greasy paper bag. The sun pushed through the palm fronds.
There was nothing earth shattering about my walk except the world in all its fragile beauty.
Tanya Ward Goodman is the author of “Leaving Tinkertown.”