Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In Which I Walk In A Square

Have you been enjoying the beautiful Spring weather?
I have been trying to take advantage of it by taking some nice long walks.
Do you ever go for walks near your home?  What is that like?  Do you drive to a park and use a nice walking path?  Do you go to a gym and walk on a track or treadmill?  Do you have a nice neighborhood cul-de-sac that you stroll through?

I want to tell you about my latest walk.

Oh-Henry is a nice place to walk.  Safe, quiet, minimal traffic.  I like to walk around the perimeter of the town because it makes me feel closer to being in the country- part of the walk parallels the river and the other part has farm ground along one side of the road.  (And yes, I do mean the entire perimeter of my town, minus the little subdivision add-ons.  It is a s-m-a-l-l town.)  The perimeter is not really a square, because nothing in Henry is straight, perpendicular, square, etc.  Some of the streets are parallel to the river.  Some are parallel to the railroad tracks.  Some are parallel to the main highway.  Some are parallel to the other main highway, but only in some places because that road makes a 90 degree angle through town, because otherwise it would run straight into the Catholic Church...  You get the idea.

Anyways, to better illustrate this story, here is what this walk looks like:

(Note: before all of my safety-oriented friends and family freak out that I just posted a map of my walking route, I need to add a disclaimer.)

Attention all potential stalkers: (not that you really exist, nor do you read this blog) If you are really thinking that you can use the map above to track me down and abduct me and/or steal my circa 2005 256MB MP3 player, you have another thing coming.  I walk different routes at different times.  Much like a CIA operative.  I watch crime TV shows-I know to vary my routine.  So, if you really want to find me, staking out this route is not going to work.  You will actually have much better luck stopping the first person you see in town and asking them if they have seen me around lately.  They will probably send you in the right direction.  And tell you about how they once beat my Grandfather at cards.

Moving on-

So, my walk.  Part of the reason that I chose this route is because I thought that it would be quiet.  Not much traffic, late in the day, it all sounded very relaxing.  I left home, crossed the highway and the railroad tracks.  And that is when my walk got not-so-quiet.  It seems that everyone else (and their dogs) were out enjoying the weather.  I saw lots and lots of people.  And I practically performed a case study on why anonymity is impossible in a small town.

At #1 on the map, I saw a high school classmate's older sister.  She passed me.  She was jogging.  We exchanged as many pleasantries as one can while being jogged past.

At #2, I was called over by a lady from my Bible Study who was out working in her yard.  We chatted and then her husband pulled into the driveway and joined the conversation.  They wished me a good walk, but not before they made me promise to "tell the folks hello."  (Bill and Betty say hello, Mom and Dad)

In between 2 and 3, I enjoyed a nice view of the river.  Contrary to how it looks on the map, I was not walking in an empty field, I was cutting through a park...

At #3, I was waved down by my grade school principal.  He also had to yell, because I had my rockin' MP3 player cranked up while walking through the park.  I think that was the first time I have been yelled at by a principal.

I then had a nice long stretch of quiet.

At #4, a car stopped right in front of me.  It was my cousin's wife.  She told me all about how her daughter had gone to Wildlife Prairie Park that day.  She was about to show me pictures, but a car came up behind her, and she had to move.  Maybe next time.

At #5, my high school history teacher drove past me.  He is easy to pick out because he has the name of our town on his license plates.

I was nearly home and out of the residential area, so I thought I was clear to not see anyone else, but I was wrong.

At #6, I saw a 4-H mom who is a friend and her son filling up at the gas station.  They got to show off their pretty new truck to me.  They laughed when I told them about my walk so far.

And then I got home.  And laughed some more.

Please note that I did not include all of the exchanges that I made with strangers who were walking, jogging, or biking past me.  Or the people who waved as they drove past in their cars or trucks. I also am not including the people that I knew who were out in their yards but were too far away for conversation.  The list would be much, much longer.

However, I did learn a few things on this particular walk:
A. Point and case as too why I am too embarrassed to jog here.  Too many eyes seeing me look like an uncoordinated idiot.
B. This further alleviates my fear of falling/spraining my ankle/wrecking my bike while in town.  (This is not a far fetched fear, btw.) If one of those things would happen, I have a feeling that it would be less than 2 minutes before someone would stop and help.  And just in case I am unconscious, odds are also good that they will not only be able to tell the authorities who I am, but also where I live, and what my high school GPA was. 
C. Proof that there is a beautiful level of accountability in small town life.  You can't "lose yourself" in the crowd.  You are surrounded by people who care about you and want what is best for you.  And who want to know every detail of your life.  Every stinkin' detail.

All I can say is, Oh-Henry.


  1. I love it. Oh, Katie, what an excellent, beautiful description of the blessings of living in a small town!

  2. Oh, Betsy. Would this kind of thing happen to you if you walked around Wyoming or Toulon?

  3. Well, I wouldn't have been surprised by it 10 years ago when I lived at home, but now I'm not so sure. Anymore, when I'm back there, I realize how many unfamiliar faces are around. Times are changin'! Speaking of small towns, remind me to give you an update on the "stolen trailer saga"... it's still missing, but there have been some interesting developments.

  4. How did I miss this?!?! This post makes me miss the Midwest (and you friend!). :0)