One Small Step: walk, don’t drive, once a week

One Small Step is our attempt to show you all how easy it can be to improve your health, and the health of the planet. Each week, we’ll take one more little step and encourage you to take it with us. In honor of this first week, I’ll be oh-so-literal and commit to:

Walk, don’t drive, to one meeting, appointment, or errand every week.

I could enumerate the reasons. Save gas. Reduce emissions. Save money. Improve your health. Breathe deeper. Stay local. But instead I’ll take you on a walk with me.

I’m a recent convert to the cult of knitting, and this requires frequent trips to the various yarn stores around town for just the right silky woollen stuff. My favorites are (naturally) hand-dyed and made from all natural fibers. It makes me feel good, to create something beautiful for my children to wear instead of buying it off a particle-board rack at the Gap. But these excursions to knitting stores? They’re a real resource hog, and I’m not just talking about the high cost of Noro Silk Garden.

It was a warm Thursday night, my husband was working late and my boys (ages four and 14 months) had fully converted to late summer bedtimes. They couldn’t sit still and I had to have one more skein of yarn for my latest project, a late wedding present for my sister Jenny. The old me would have packed the boys in the car and skedaddled to Mabel’s, where they have yarn, a variety of yummy iced teas, and best of all: a toy box. But this is the new me.

And so I dusted off the double stroller (the one that was a hand-me-down from an old colleague, and really shows the strain of time, rainy walks and far too much peanut butter), wiping away the spiders and dry leaves collected on the seats. I packed some snacks, my favorite knitting bag, and the boys and we headed off to Mabel’s.

The knitting cafe is a bit more than a mile away, over all my favorite hills, past the high school track where I ran and jumped in my teens, past the apartment my sister Hannah lived when she was first married, past my old friend Lisa George’s childhood home. Everett and I talked about saving princesses and why shadows are sometimes beside us and sometimes in front and how hard it is to push them up a hill and how fun it is to go fast down the other side. Truman practiced his wave at every possible opportunity.

When we arrived, the cafe was nearly empty and the barista/salesperson/yarn expert made me ginger peach iced tea and talked to Everett about his princesses. She seemed lonely; I think we made her evening a bit brighter. I knitted a row or three and Truman happily tried to pull baby blue cotton yarn out of its cubby, over and over and over.

On the way home, we went on a treasure hunt for fallen petals of orange and red and gold, and we met another mom out with her two girls. We pushed past a Wednesday night church service, past a family unpacking a moving van, past a woman with well-manicured nails watering her equally-well-trimmed lawn.

We watched the shadows get longer as we walked the mile-and-then-some back, and I was struck by the beauty of the late-evening light. When we arrived home, we ate a late dinner and changed into our bedtime clothes and somehow? We were so much happier than the night before.

Author by Sarah Gilbert