Friday, August 20, 2010
“My dream is to walk around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. a camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance.” Maira Kalman
Never would it occur to me, not in any dream—wild or otherwise—to not come equipped for a Jacks Peak walk. I always have one bag or another slung over my shoulder or hoisted onto my back.
When Michael and I come together, he has four perfectly functional pockets, yet they’re nearly empty. What a waste! From what I can tell, he carries change and keys; sometimes a handkerchief, which is particularly useful when we’re together and I don’t have tissues and I get sad; wallet, keys and a tape measure. (Michael is a cabinet maker, even when he’s not at work. And that tool comes in very handy. You never know when a thing’s dimensions need to be known.)
Here’s what he doesn’t have and what I always do: water, lipstick; a little snack; Advil and vitamins; usually, my wallet; most times, a cell phone; notebook and camera (and tucked inside that camera case is a little feather that once belonged to the dove that got killed and whose body was left on Skyline Trail); at least one pen, if not three or four; and a hair clip. (Not that Michael has need for a hair clip, nor lipstick, for that matter.) My wallet may get left behind but not the lipstick and absolutely never is the snack forgotten. Walking hard can make a person hungry.
(By now, you may have noticed that I have a thing about food and hunger. I get a little crazy when I’m too hungry. Even though I’ve worked on controlling this, an unflattering not-niceness can overtake me. Maybe in one of my previous lives I actually didn’t have enough to eat.)
Here’s what I don’t carry but maybe I should: binoculars, Handiwipes, a ladder, a pretty hat, a hairbrush, toilet paper, a first aid kit, rope, matches, pictures of my kitties or a change of clothes. I rarely carry a map though I’m getting better at that. I don’t carry something to read anymore though I used to—I’d rather read tree leaves or the map of the sky. My mind is forever with me. (May it always be so.) Despite how hard I try, I’m never without my past or concerns about the future.
My favorite carrying case is not one I take with me. The one I once loved best is gone. It was the cobalt blue, round overnight case that was my mother’s first and then mine. When I was little and took the train by myself to visit my aunt and grandmother in West Springfield, Massachusetts, I would be comforted by that round, blue case at my feet though not as comforted as I was by the friendly porter. My favorite case now is the one I bought for a dollar at Goodwill.
It has elasticized pockets inside made out of gray satin. I bring it into the classroom with me when the kids and I are preparing to write poems. We pretend Winter left his suitcase behind the day he got butted out by spring and all her flowers. The suitcase has snowflakes inside and rainwater and even hail. I don’t carry it on the trail because it’s quite heavy and I’d look silly lugging that big thing.
Your turn. What do you bring along when you go for a walk? What have I forgotten?
Posted by Patrice Vecchione at 11:37 AM