Walk about

By Daniel Dunkle | Jul 03, 2020

The other day I was out walking in a green T-shirt, and a fairly good-sized bee decided I was a pretty, pretty flower, albeit a large one and one moving rather quickly.

I was making my way along Broadway, and there were plenty of cars humming past.

The bee, producing a sound not unlike a small helicopter, began to cause considerable concern. The sting itself is one thing, but also there have been many reports that we are running out of pollinating insects, and I would not want this one to waste himself in fighting with me.

So I began in a very dignified manner to run away from the bee down the sidewalk.

To someone in a passing car, it might have appeared that the local newspaper editor was performing an odd dance with a distressed countenance while fleeing from the invisible man.

And for a moment, I wildly thought to myself, “I’m actually doing it. I’m jogging!”

I am reminded of an Oscar Wilde quote: “To get back my youth, I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”

My cowardice was rewarded. I was not stung, and can only hope our friend the bee went on to pollinate all of the flowers he liked.

In a way, it is flattering to be wanted. This bee just wasn’t my type.

Insects aside, it is something approaching paradise to walk the quiet neighborhoods of Rockland in late May, when the sun is beating down and the trees are in bloom.

For eyes and nose, a feast is offered. Skies without a hint of cloud have greeted me along with the bright colors of various blossoms and flowering trees; I wish I knew all of their names. Not enough to look them up, but you know, vaguely.

I enjoy the feeling of sunlight sinking into my flesh as I do all things that I am told are bad for me.

I smell the fragrant plants, the recently cut grass, the fumes from lawnmowers, charcoal, split wood, and numerous other things.

In the afternoon, it is quite slow out there on these streets, but I run into people. We practice the plague-year social distancing, but still enjoy a greeting here and there. There are gardeners I stop and talk to, most of them with gardens that look more accomplished than mine.

There is a knowing look exchanged between gardeners. We understand what it is to rest the mind, to engage in ancient activity, away from the screens that work endlessly to rob us of our sanity. The same could be said of walking, fishing, climbing, sailing, swimming, painting, anything that does not require one to sit and watch a little bar fill with color.

I saw a young man on a skateboard. He was tattooed, with an impressive man bun, and he was moving along at a good clip, even going up hill. He was also blaring distortion-heavy music from a device so small I didn’t even see it. There was a time when this required a boom box the size of a suitcase.

It’s a great thing, walking. It clears the mind, increases productivity, buoys energy levels.

When I was little, I used to walk to church with my grandfather, who was the pastor. That was our time, just him and me. We talked about everything. What I would give for just one more of those walks...

Rockland offers the walker great variety. One can walk along the neighborhood streets. Most of the houses I passed were beautiful. Some lawns were putting greens, freshly mown; some a riot of plant life behind an old leaning fence. Dogs greeted me with warning barks, keeping me off their territory. We have the urban downtown with all of the things to look at in the windows, the boardwalk along the water.

For the first time in my life, I find myself taking time to look at all the big trees and wonder how long they have stood. We recently had to have our massive maple cut down because it could damage the house if one of its big limbs came down in a wind storm. It was well over a century old.

There is an impressive hole in a massively thick maple near my house, and I imagine the Great Owl from “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” lives in there.

I contemplated a great dead hardwood on a lawn and wondered what a tree’s ghost might remember.

So if you see me running down the street, waving my arms about my head, and no one chasing me, be assured I am meditating deeply on the nature of things and the things of nature.

Either that or I’m being chased by a bee.

Daniel Dunkle is the editor of The Courier-Gazette and The Camden Herald, and an award-winning novelist. He lives in Rockland. Email him at ddunkle@villagesoup.com.


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Comments (2)
Posted by: Constance Bodine | Jul 12, 2020 12:03

So glad to be a new online member - I always enjoy your stories.


Posted by: Margaret McCrea | Jul 03, 2020 20:57

Well done, Mr. Dan Dunkle. I greatly enjoyed your walk and observations and thank you for sharing.

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