Walking. Like who’s watching who?

The nocturnals. Or the insomniacs. Or both.

There’s a handful of us that walk Cove Island Park in twilight, before daybreak.

There’s the lady with the Lime Green winter coat. Knee length. Fur lined hood, always up. Most noticeable, besides the strobe-like-pulsing, lime green coat, is that you can see her across the entire length of the park. Her arms stiff and straight, swing up and high, then sharply down, and repeat. I watch her. I find it all hypnotic. Like a giant tropical parrot, with her wings clipped, trying to get airborne. She read somewhere that if you ball your fingers into a fist and slash your arms way up and sharply down, you will lose many more calories then if you walked like a normal human. She passes me, never makes eye contact.  I wouldn’t make eye contact either walking like that.

I walk.

I note that I hold my arms tight to my sides, then wonder if others look at me. “Look at him. Poor thing. He must have something wrong with him. His arms don’t move.” So I move my arms just a wee bit to and fro but it’s awkward. It’s somewhere in between Lime Green and a Robot, creating a lot of resistance so I can’t build up any momentum. Jesus help me. 

I walk.

There’s the runner. Always shares a perky good morning. No matter what the conditions. Man, ~ est. early 40’s, tight spandex-like bottoms. Large, big bezeled iPhone (Early model) strapped to his right bicep. A runner, he circles the loop 3x, big grin on his face as he passes. Reminds me of a younger Roper (Norman Fell), the landlord on Three’s Company. I watch him as he passes. Happy SOB isn’t he? When’s that last time I ran? It’s been months. And there used to be a time when I cared. And look at me, I could care less. God, what a slug. [Read more…]

Walking. With MJF.

Monday morning, 5 a.m. The night before, wind gusts up to 60 mph, heavy rain, and a tornado set down a few miles away. Trees down. Thousands without power in Fairfield County. The Kanigan house?  Silent. The lights burn, the furnace hums, Susan and Eric sleep. All is well.

I walk.

Cove Island Park.  There’s no evidence of havoc on the beach. It is swept clean. No drift wood. No trash. No humans. The sand is firm underfoot. I leave faint shoe marks. I don’t look back.

I never look back. 

It’s likely why the title of his book, No Time Like the Future, caught my attention. Michael J. Fox‘s new memoir, is pumping through my earbuds.

29 years old: Parkinson’s.

58 years old: Spinal cord surgery (unrelated to Parkinson’s) followed by long term rehab.

“I got grim,” he said in an interview in 2019. No shit.

I’m Canadian, like MJF, without the famous part.  He was born 5 months earlier, and yet handed a deck of cards that I’m not sure I could ever play.

He’s written 3 other memoirs titled “Lucky Man“, “Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist” and “A Funny Thing Happens on the Way to the Future.” You get the picture. It’s almost as if he was built to take the blows.

He’s narrating this new book.

Shame, that’s what I feel, as I have to slow down the narration speed on Audible to catch each word. Most with Parkinson’s speak slowly, but not MJF. He speaks rapidly, with certain words trailing off at the end of certain sentences. Actor. Married, 30 years. Father. Prolific fundraiser for Parkinson’s. Writer. Narrator of his own books. Super Man.

I walk, and I listen. [Read more…]

Walking. With M-G.

Head Cold. Nasal drip. Nagging cough. Light nausea. Friday the 13th. Feels about right.

6:10 am. Cove Island Park. 192 days. Consecutive, and getting long in the tooth.

45° F. Wind gusts up to 25 mph. Drizzle. Wet. Cold.

Cloud cover: 100%. Like a million %.

M-G: You’re dragging.

DK: It’s that obvious?

M-G: Snarky too.

M-G: COVID?

DK: Can’t be.

M-G: How’s that?

DK: Hood Brand Ice Cream Sandwiches.

M-G: Ice Cream Sandwiches? [Read more…]

Morning Walk. See. Feel. But still can’t sit.

186 Days.
You know the drill.
Consecutive days.
5 miles from Home to Cove Island Park and back. Sort of.

Last week, on a bitter cold and wet morning, and pressed for time, I jumped in the car, and drove to the park. To keep the streak alive.

Heater blowing on my feet. Wind gusts and rain battering the car. And there I was, sheltered and toasty. Protected from all that God could throw at me that morning. Not sure why God was on my mind, but C.S. Lewis called it: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

And so here we are. This morning. 186 consecutive days. I’m migrating, with the birds. But instead of Southward bound, it’s a downward spiral on the Sedentary Bus.

It was Running (for years).

Then Walking for less than a year.

Now Sitting. Just can’t get it going.

I drive to the Park. I take one slow walk around the loop. And make my way to the Point.

Sunrise is at 6:30 a.m. It’s 6:13 a.m.

I’m restless. (Permanent Condition). 17 min to sun up. What to do? What to do?

I notice a bench a few yards in front of me. I can feel tension, in my bones, in the flesh, in my mind —  it flashes No. I think back to Morning Walk. See, But Can’t Sit. Man, you have all sorts of problems. Just sit on it.

I approach the bench. There is a copper plate affixed In Memoriam…

I hadn’t ever noticed.

I scan the area. Bench here. Bench there. Benches everywhere. I never noticed.

I walk by each reading the inscriptions. I find myself drawn in. I walk slowly from one to the next.

  1. In Loving Memory. Vita & Gus. Andover – Where the Weeping Willow Stood.
  2. In Loving Memory. “DeeDee”. Wife, Mother, Sister. Grandmother. A friend to all she met. 1946-2016.
  3. In Loving Memory. Bob. Husband, Dad, Papa, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend. 1942-2019.
  4. In Loving Memory. Dominick and Mary. 2011.
  5. In Memory of Debbie. 1976-2008., Love You Forever…
  6. In Memory of Joseph. 1913-2004.
  7. In Loving Memory of Peter. 1947-2011. A man who actively enjoyed all seasons of life at Cove Island Park.
  8. In Loving Memory. “Bim”. 1928-2014.
  9. In Loving Memory of Raymond. 1932-2007. Raymond’s roots ran deep. Deeply loved. Loved deeply.
  10. Beloved Grandson. Christopher. 1996-2014.
  11. Inhale the Beauty. Joan and Bill.
  12. In Loving Memory of Edwin & Margaret.
  13. Mary Pauline. 1943-2015. In our hearts forever. Your loving husband and family.
  14. In Loving Memory of Joseph. “Fish On.”
  15. In Loving Memory of Connie. September 1998
  16. Diane. 1946-2014. My Wife – My Love – My Companion in Life. I Miss You. Gordon.
  17. John. 1950-2017. Devoted Husband, loving father
  18. In Loving Memory of Melvin. He brought so much joy to so many.
  19. Louise’s Bench. (No dates. Just Louise’s Bench)
  20. In Loving Memory of Timothy and Grace.
  21. Our Sweet Angel. Maria. You lifted our spirts with Love, Laughter, Music and Dance. 1973-2015.
  22. Raymond. 1943-2018. The best things in life are the ones you love.
  23. In loving memory of Joseph “Little Joe”. Known for his love of family friends, Harleys, Corvettes and sunny days at the beach, Remember me, when you look into the seas…and there I’ll be. 1948-2015
  24. In Loving Memory of Jennifer. Your beautiful smile remains forever in our hearts

I look at my watch, it’s 6:29, a minute from sunrise. I walk to the last bench.  The gulls are now quiet, they too wait for the Sun in our moment of silence.

I’m reading the last, Bench #25…I brush my fingers over the metal plate. Over the letters making up soft, and then the letters breeze, and then gentle and tide and kind and heart. And then my index finger skips over the letters making up Love always

I brush away a tear, and then another…

[Read more…]

Saturday Morning. Walking with Lucy.

4:30 am.

I shake off the cob webs from Tylenol PM.

Read morning papers, blog posts, skim social media.

Read another chapter of Christopher Beha’s “The Index of Self-Destructive Acts.”

Think about my index, and yesterday’s destructive acts. Guzzled two (or was it three?) bottles of Diet Snapple Peach Tea. Sugar Free. No preservatives. Turn the bottle to read the label. Aspartame, sodium, citric acid, potassium citrate, malic acid. Natural, my a**.

And then Nachos. Potato Chips. Three donuts. And, a large (large) number of Hershey’s Nuggets…like on a conveyor belt, I love Lucy and the Chocolate Factory. Oh, that milk chocolate sugar high.

C.S. Lewis said “Life (or Sugar), is as habit forming as cocaine. What then?” What then? What now?

I pause before weigh-in. Regret the Self-Destructive Acts. Inhale. Hope. I ease onto the scale, like tip-toeing is going to pare back a pound or two. A**holes believe that it will move down after yesterday’s performance. Disgusting. Disgusted.

I check the weather app. Think about how many layers I need. Should be one less with the extra layer of glazed donuts. Whale blubber is said to taste like arrowroot biscuits or Stop & Shop Cake donuts.

57° F, but breezy. No jacket. Tee-shirt. Long sleeved sweater. Camera gear. I walk by the island in the kitchen. 3 donuts left. Don’t you dare. Don’t even think about it. My mouth waters. My God, I have issues.

5:30 am.

I’m out the door.

152 consecutive days.

5 mile loop to Cove Island Park and back.

~10,000 steps…

600 calories…

Or approx 3 glazed donuts.

Walking. With the Silent Generation.

I counted him out yesterday morning. There was light drizzle from 5:00 am to 6:20 am, and it continued for my entire 5 mile loop around Cove Island Park. But he didn’t disappoint. There he was.

We intersect most mornings.

Never met him. Don’t know him. Never spoken a word to him.

But I imagine his life.

He’s a member of the Silent Generation, following his Parents, who were members of the Greatest Generation who survived the Great Depression. Waste not. Want not. Sacrifice. Freedom. God. Country. (I’m consciously leaving out ‘Guns’.)

He didn’t come from the Privileged. He was drafted, he didn’t seek medical deferment, he fought in the Vietnam War. Memories haunt, Demons always in pursuit. Jennifer Pastiloff’s: “Get out of your head. It’s a bad neighborhood.”  So he walks.

There’s no Apple Watch tracking his steps. No iPhone pumping in music or books on tape.  Nothing to shake that gnawing, that scraping…

There are two flags that hang on his house; they are worn, the whites have long lost their sheen.  They don’t just make their appearance on July 4th, they hang 365 days a year.

The homes around him, one by one, are torn down, rebuilt, taller, larger, and fill with young families fleeing Manhattan. Property values have soared, his taxes have followed upward, and now pinch. He could flee to Florida, land of no State income tax, but that has never crossed his mind. He was born here, and will die here, his home town.  He completes his own tax returns, reports his modest pensioner’s income and pays all of his taxes, because that is what has to be done.

The curtains are always drawn. He’s a Widower, married for 40 years, and then lost Her to Cancer.  No one to open the drapes.  No dog to keep him company. No cat to nestle next to his feet, purring, as he watches The Evening News. Income is tight, he can’t afford the expense. He misses his Wife.

The lawn is cut, never shaggy. A fence, freshly painted brown, provides token separation from the neighbors, with toys strewn all over their front yard.

His Story may be entirely different. But it’s what I see. What I need to see.

Yet, what doesn’t require imagining, is this.

I’ve come to look for him each morning. I round the turn to walk up Anthony Lane and there he is.

No matter how far up the street I am, he looks for me, and always throws up his hand to wave Hello.

Because that’s what he was taught.  And that’s what he Believes. Character. Honesty. Decency. Be a good neighbor.

Some day, I’ll either tire of this same morning walk, or he won’t be there. One, or the other.

And, I’ll miss him.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, Saturday, Aug 30, 2020
  • Inspired by: “If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it.” — David Foster Wallace, from “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace” by David Lipsky (Broadway, April 13, 2010)
  • Inspired by: “We may be in the middle of a story we don’t know how will end, or even whether it will end, but we are not helpless characters created and directed by an unseen novelist. We have the power, even in this Age of Anxiety, to enfold ourselves in small comforts, in the joy of tiny pleasures. We can walk out into the dark and look up at the sky. We can remind ourselves that the universe is so much bigger than this fretful, feverish world, and it is still expanding. And still filled with stars. —  Margaret Renkl, “A Reminder to Enfold Yourself in Small Comforts” (NY Times, August 24, 2020)

Monday Morning (Epilogue)

Yesterday’s post, yesterday’s comments. Loved them. Link here.

The ask was: “Two different cameras, shot taken 1 minute apart, two different perspectives. What’s your favorite?” Same photos above.  Here’s my take.

  1. I didn’t really See them until I was at my desk, at home. Wow. What a difference!
  2. One taken with a camera that had dials for aperture, for shutter speed, for exposure compensation.  So it had to be better.
  3. One had a separate, expensive zoom lens. So, it had to be better.
  4. One camera was so much bigger than the other. And was made for still photography. And was so much more expensive then the other. So it had to be better.

Photo 1: Came from an iPhone, zoomed 2x. No other alterations.

Photo 2: Came from a Fuji X-T4 with a 50mm x 140mm zoom lens. No alterations.

I stared at the iPhone photo.  I wasn’t there. Not with this scene. Not with these vibrant colors. Yet, I was drawn to this photo. “Warmer” (Beth, Darlene, Jnana, Michael, yes.) “Better composition with light and dark contrast.” (Jnana, Lori, yes.) “Bright, depicts the awakening of life…under the kiss of blush” (Christie, Louise.  Yes.)

No. No. But it just can’t be.  It had to be an aberration.

So I did it all over again this morning. Except this time, I took 20 shots with each camera.

Result: Same.

Can’t be the camera. Can’t be. Has to be the Operator. What an amateur.  Can’t be the camera. Not with the money sunk into this device.

I’m standing under a hot shower a few minutes later, thinking about the photos.

I think I need a Canon.


Inspired by Jnana Hodson‘s review of my shots —  some day I hope to see and be 50% as good Jnana.

“The top one, though I would try to level the water to flat horizontal rather than its current slight tilt. It’s warmer and speaks of sunrise. The bottom photo is tonally too muddy. There’s no light detail and no distinctly dark contrast. Also, the right side of the shot lacks the compositional closure the bit of land gives the top shot, balancing the land on the other side, even though the power lines are a bit of clutter. That detail invites the eye out into the bay beyond before returning to the heron or egret in the foreground.”

Walking. To Unclenched.

3:50 a.m.

I’m up.

Groggy from Tylenol PM. I stare at the clock, do the math, a whopping 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Whaddya know! 1 day in a row! 

The euphoria burns off quickly. An 8 a.m. appointment weighs heavily. I punch out a few notes for the meeting on my laptop, close the lid, needing at least a full hour to prep for the call.  Unfinished. Unprepared. Anxious. I drag the three horsemen with me as I head out the door.

I’m off.

The Head is not in this game this morning.  That is, my 5-mile walk around Cove Island to start the day. It’s Month 4 of day after day after consecutive day of 90-minute twilight walks. You could have passed on the morning walk, finished your prep to take a load off, but Nooooo. That’s not how you roll.

I’m rushing.  I’m not Here. I’m not There. I’m a bit everywhere. I need to cut my loop short and hurry back.

I tuck the camera away, I’m half way home. I pick up the pace.
[Read more…]

Walking. One Short. From Wing to Wing.

He has to be in his late 70’s, maybe early 80’s, but he’s out each morning walking, in twilight. There’s a handful of us obsessives out at this hour, including me, that strange guy, always in black head to toe, The Camera Guy (as Jim calls me, grateful he’s left ‘Creepy’ out of the prefix).

He has a severe limp when he walks, his right side slumps with each step. Retired Vet, would be my bet. Large, hulking man, must have been fierce in his day. (vs. me still pretending to be fierce, a younger old dog with false teeth, literally and figuratively. At least they don’t clack, yet. Something to look forward to).

We’re on Month 4 here with the morning walks, and despite the crossing of our paths each morning, he would not lift his head to acknowledge me. Perhaps stuck in his head. Perhaps wanting to leave me stuck in mine, which was exactly where I prefer to be. We all send off our own scent don’t we, mine a ‘Black Prickly de Chanel.’

Last week, he broke the silence.

“Do you know if the other Swan is still around? My wife and I were worried.”

I paused for a minute, and not sure exactly why I lied, but I did. I did notice her partner had been absent for a week or so, but I just didn’t have it in me to tell him. Or, perhaps I didn’t want to believe he was gone. Like Gone, Gone.

“Yes, he’s down by the bridge at the end of The Cove.” [Read more…]

Walking. My July 4th.

Twilight. August 7, 2020. 5:32 am. 67° F. Cloud Cover: 86%. The Cove, Stamford, CT.

90+ min walk. 100+ photos.

It was Amateur Hour (or hour and a half).

Hand shake. Blurry shots. Crooked shots. Underexposed shots. Overexposed shots. Dark light. Bad light.

Rain drops on lens. No pink or orange hues lighting up the cove. Dense cloud cover.

Hide tide. Birds in hiding.

But…

as I rounded the corner at Cove Island Park, there it was. The American Flag. Softly flapping in the breeze.  I pause to watch… listening to its rustling, as it folded and unfolded. No press briefings. No shameless politicians.

Just the American flag, the silence of the daybreak and me.  And an intense and overwhelming feeling of gratitude for this Country and it’s great people…and what you all have given my family and me.

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