I don’t get asked to go to the Post Office with my George Fisher colleagues, or indeed any errands which involve walking through town. It’s not simply because as Yvette would say, “We just don’t like you”, or as Carolyn would say, “It’s because you’re Scottish”. I suspect Yvette is only half joking, Carolyn on the other hand isn’t, I’ll always be a white settler in these parts.
No, the reason I don’t get asked is because I walk too fast. I hadn’t quite grasped the fact that a walk to the Post Office should be leisurely, taken at a gentle pace, a time to enjoy the sun on your face, respite from the noise of the air conditioning. Not something to be taken advantage of, or abused, no, but certainly something to be enjoyed, savoured if you like; take your time, don’t hurry back!
Had I been in work this week of course, they’d certainly be picking me to accompany them on their Post Office run. I’m on crutches you see following a knee operation. It’s a slow process getting about. No longer can I zip through town, as the late rugby commentator and fellow Borderer, Bill McLaren, would have said; “Like a trout up a burn”. I arrive at crossings and have to wait patiently for the green man to appear. Yesterday a young couple smiled apologetically at me as they almost skipped across the road in my direction before the lights had changed. I couldn’t risk it and they knew it. Their kindness was however appreciated.
It’s not all bad though. You see I can now spot things that I’d previously charged past, almost oblivious to their being there. Between buildings I see hills and trees in the distance I never knew were visible. The road up to Bern’s house is actually much longer and steeper than I’d ever given it credit. Not because of the crutches, it just is, I’d never once stopped and took it in, I’d always just raced across the road and up past the garages, under the bridge and there I was, without a thought. There are brambles growing through the broken walls by the road, I’d never spotted them before and the railings on Wheelbarrow Brow, although at a glance similar are in fact different, with spiked tops on one side and flat tops on the other, and who, I wonder who, half way down, bent the tops over.
There’s beautiful architecture on ageing buildings, ornate lampposts, out of use, surrendering to greenery, hidden from the waist down. There are pretty flower beds with a heavenly fragrance, leaves are falling already and some have blown into streams and they’re wonderful to watch as they float off into the distance like ships from the shore.
Perhaps the Codeine is going to my head, and so what if it is, but it’s worth remembering that you don’t need mountains to go for a walk, even if that walk is with one rigid leg and a pair of NHS crutches, incidentally a jolly, elderly lady on the street proudly showed me her flowery crutches yesterday. We talked for a while, she was really interesting. You know if you just slow down a little bit, take a little time to look around, then there’s an awful lot around us to be appreciated!