This is a story about seniors. When people see the word walker as it applies to seniors, many think of the walk assist device in common use in nursing homes. However, this story isn’t about that walker.
Early mornings this summer before humidity makes the day unbearably hot, my husband and I walk the boardwalk.
We enjoy seeing the animals which are active early in the morning but also the cast of human characters which we see most days as well.
A number of people, like us, want to beat the heat and hit the walkway early. Many, like us, enjoy the animals along the way. Many also walk their dogs as we walk the golden grand-dog when she visits. Georgie, like many of the boardwalkers, loves watching the animals.
Dogs are great conversation starters. People stop to admire Georgie and ask her age. Sometimes we query others about their dogs. Dog owners are a breed unto themselves.
One morning, an elderly woman walked slowly behind her small dog. I commented what a cute little pup he was. She said, “He keeps me active. After I feed him, he stands by the door until I take him for a walk.” Our dogs keep us moving.
The other animals are conversation starters as well. The squirrels, chipmunks,
muskrats and birds are the sources of much enjoyment as people bring cameras, peanuts or birdseed to the area.
A mother mallard has raised her brood of ducklings while we walk. There are several people we meet regularly who are also taking photos of the maturing ducklings and we share news of the day’s sighting.
One man appears every morning with a bag of peanuts in shells for the squirrels and raw peanuts for the chipmunks and birds. He thoroughly enjoys the animals, taking great delight in their every move. He is the animal whisperer of the boardwalk.
There are a few younger people out early in the morning too but the vast majority of early morning walkers are seniors of all shapes, sizes and physical abilities. One woman is a retired nurse who uses her cane as she walks along, enjoying the setting and the animals. Dogs recognize her for the treats she offers. She’s made a lot of friends along the way.
An 87 year old man and his wife walk early too. He brings along his camera and is always looking for an unusual animal shot. Recently they saw an albino squirrel which we are never fortunate enough to see.
Topics of conversation include the weather, the animals, cameras, wildflowers, the setting, news in the community or the province and the pandemic. It is a great place to socialize. Old friends talk longer than people who have met along the boardwalk but everyone manages a, “Good morning,” or “Beautiful day,” or at least a nod.
People who walk the boardwalk make a little community of our own. We look for the same people every morning and wonder about them if we don’t see them for a few days. We share sightings of the animals and stories of encounters with them. Not only does the walking keep us active, it adds to our social life as well. Being this type of walker may delay our need for the other kind.