I always find it interesting how many people will drive long distances to go hiking, but many of those same people won’t walk long distances in their own cities. For me, most of inner Portland can be accessed on foot, and I think that a two, three, four, or even eight mile walk across the city is a wonderful way to spend the day. Of course I love being out in wild natural areas too, but if one never walks from place to place in the urban expanses in which they live, they may never truly know the place they call home.
As I walked across town on this beautiful late winter day, I was particularly struck by how empty the sidewalks were. There were plenty of cars zooming down the roads, but relatively few people out and about on foot. It’s one of the strange things about walking in a city where so many people drive. I can be out in broad daylight in one of the most idyllic neighborhoods, with gorgeous old houses, and towering trees, and not see another person for blocks at a time. I often wonder where everyone is. How could I be the only one person in this spot at this time when there were millions of people living across the city? Where was everyone? Sometimes I will walk at rush hour and watch as people in cars inch their way down the road, angry and frustrated, while I am the only person walking on the empty, but beautiful and perfectly functional sidewalk. I wonder where they are going that driving seems like such a good option? If they are on a city street instead of the freeway, it can’t be too far. I wonder how many of those people just don’t know that walking is an option and one that would make their lives so much less painful.
Along my walk, I came across so many curious and beautiful things; friendly neighborhood cats, six poetry stations, colorful murals, endless yard signs, and beautifully landscaped gardens with abundant and fragrant, early spring flowers. I wandered around without any set route and discovered streets and places I had never been before. The whole walk was about four miles and took me a little over an hour. A perfect way to spend the afternoon, with lots of time to think, reflect, and wonder about the world around me.