By Mary Nicotera
It began about 10 years ago, spurred on by the dreaded weigh-in at my annual physical. A panic alarm went off in my head. That evening, and without the right footwear or clothing, I headed out and just started walking. I’ve been walking ever since.
I first used my car to map out various routes I could take which would ensure at least a 2-mile, 40-minute workout. I still walk these neighborhood routes on occasion, as I enjoy eyeing the interesting choices some people make for landscaping and holiday décor.
But several years ago, I rediscovered The Path. A convenient walking distance from my home, I head out there three to four times a week, or whenever weather cooperates. If there is even a tiny speck of rain hovering on the radar, rest assured that darn speck will hone in and drench me mercilessly.
Depending on my mood, I queue up one of my playlists for inspiration. Ethel, Bing, Mick, Lionel, Lady Gaga and many others have helped keep me moving and motivated. The music puts me in a power-walking zone. I resist the urge to embarrass myself by singing out loud or letting dance moves sully my stealth form. But if you catch someone swaying their arms like a symphony conductor, that’s likely me.
The Path rookies and over-exuberant athletes are sometimes irksome. They can be aggressive and zip around as if they own the path without regard to the rules. An occasional renegade throws off the momentum, risking injury to others, and I’ve been known to chastise them.
Aside from the occasional miscreant, rollerbladers, skateboarders, scooters, tandem and marathon bikers, runners, and all kinds of dogs and walkers share the space and peacefully coexist.
There is so much beauty on my Path, showcasing a myriad of flora and fauna. A wide expanse of various types of trees, wild flowers and the sound of running creek waters are all further enhanced by the shimmer cast from a rising or setting sun.
It is not unusual to spot deer, wild turkeys, red tail hawks, snapping turtles, bunnies and various species of birds in one outing. My frequent walking buddy and I once stopped to delight in a doe waiting impatiently as her twin fawns rambunctiously chased each other and frolicked around her. We imagined her eyes were rolling.
Last summer, I was surprised to discover a lone snowy-white egret wading in the reeds, where he hung out for months. I’ve even walked among fireflies and silently reveled in the enchantment as they flickered around me.
There are pesky animals, too. Lots of gaggles of pooping geese, and lately I’ve seen a coyote lurking in the trees. Give them their space, leave them alone and they will go about their business without bothering you.
Then there are the people. I’ve often referred to my Path as the “International Trailway.” People from all over the world and all walks of life enjoy the path as I do. I see burkas, turbans, saris and kippahs. And I see dreadlocks, slick bike gear, police and military garb, workout sweats and business suits. All are welcome, as long as you follow the golden rule and KEEP TO THE RIGHT.
I’ve come to know the regulars. We make eye contact, smile and greet each other as we pass. All the more reason to get out there and do it.
I love to walk my Path. A few times a week, I get the blood flowing, clear my head, marvel at nature’s beauty and get to say hello to friendly, like-minded people. Few so-called routine activities can be better than that.
Mary Nicotera of Williamsville knows she’s destined to power-walk for the rest of her life.