As I look ahead to my last week in Vermont for this summer, my thoughts are drawn toward the upcoming departure date for Spain. I brought so much work with me to Stone Walls, and haven’t gotten nearly enough done, though I still have four full days to eat the elephant. But walking around the countryside with a 15-lb pack, six miles at a time, keeps my legs and my mind moving. I was surprised (relieved, amazed) to notice that after a few miles, I had no real awareness of the pack and its weight. Please hope my slightly heavier Camino pack will settle onto my torso in just this way, becoming part of me.
During the past few days, my faithful old Golden Retriever, Marley (long before the book, by the way) and I visited a few friends in the northeast Massachusetts area. I was in Lowell/Westford with Gloria, my college roommate, and we walked along the Merrimack River. We were hindered a bit by Marley’s ability to move his old body only about a mile before he just slows to molasses speed, so it wasn’t a long walk, but again, it keeps the joints greased . . . mine and his.
Next stop was Newburyport, a lovely ocean-side community where a long-time friend is staying for awhile, so the walking plan here was two-fold . . . trudging across the sandy beaches in shimmering sunlight, and meandering about the town, in and out of shops, perusing merchandise at the hundreds of street and sidewalk markets, celebrating some Yankee event. There was even a parade today, though we left that behind to stroll on the waterfront where the bigger boats come and go.
There is nothing like a 75 degree day, blue sky with clouds that resemble enormous cotton balls, breeze blowing and the view and smell of the ocean/bays to lift one’s spirits. While we left Marley at the house for our shopping spree, he surely loved walking and napping on the sand at Rye Beach with “Mom”.
Again, the walking isn’t Camino style, but I consider that everything I’m doing every day, good or bad, is contributing to the voyage ahead of me. So I’m trying to breathe through each minute, and contemplate the last preparations, as well as some of the challenges that come to me on a regular basis. Attempting to avoid upheaval of any sort is difficult, especially when calm is an essential part of the plan. A trip like this seems to engender little monsters, just to test one! Ah, well, I’ll have plenty of time to think about those monsters out on the walk, yes?
Speaking of last minute preparations: I’m making (another) list . . . finish sorting out music for my iPod; be sure to gather all my meds and supplements organized into tiny zip-lock bags; sew one or two neck coolers, with the little gel beads inside that soak up cold water at the beginning of the day and distribute the coolness through a fabric “scarf” around the neck; make sure my newly purchased (and smaller) Swiss Army knife gets into the backpack; spray my sleeping bag, its cover and sleep sack with Permethrin, a bed bug preventative (already purchased). Sounds creepy, this last one, doesn’t it? Somehow not as creepy as the bedbugs themselves!
I’m sure there will be a few more details, but I’m nearly finished with everything but the final loading into my backpack.
Two months away from home, away from Neil, from my furry and human family members, and from the chaos of daily life in the U.S. . . . How will the walk change who I am? What changes will I face when I arrive back on the home front? Can I not think about those queries until I complete my journey? I have a feeling that all questions (except an occasional, “What was I thinking???”) will disappear on the first day. For 1000 km. there will be plenty of other things to keep my mind and body occupied, though I’m hoping for some vacant brain spaces.
Tomorrow is scheduled to be a sunny, 72-degree day in southern Vermont. Now back to the “real” walking, pack and all.