For a long time I used to walk to work, it was the best part of my day. My habitual route took me down New Scotland Ave. to Washington Park, through the Park, past Moses & Bobbie Burns, on to State St., sometimes down Spring St., sometimes down Washington Ave., to One Commerce Plaza. I estimated the distance at about two and a half miles. For most days of the year I could do it. But if it was below 20 degrees, or raining or snowing, or the sidewalks were impassable due to the Winter’s accumulation of snow, I would take the bus. And most days I took the bus home after work.
But the mornings were the best. Friends would pass by & offer me a ride. I would tell them, “No thanks, this is the best part of my day. If you see me walking, beep & wave, but if you see me standing at a bus stop you can offer me a ride.”
It was like Zen or the yoga of walking; sometimes I would reach the park & not recall anything I’d seen since leaving home. Many a personal dilemma or work problem got sorted out, sometimes consciously, often without me being fully aware of it. And I’ve written many poems that way. “Therese’s Balcony” (about Spring St.), & “Joe Krausman” were directly inspired by what happened on my walk; and “Baghdad/Albany,” about the invasion of Baghdad in March 2003, was “written” in my head during many mornings, then finally put down on paper late one night with hardly a cross-out or change. I once gave myself an assignment to write whatever was in my head when I first sat down at my desk at work in the morning. Of course, what got written was largely a response to what I had seen on my walk to work, sometimes a full-blown poem, sometimes just word play. A few of these short pieces were eventually published in a small chapbook by Boog Literature.
Now that I am retired from my job, I don’t walk every morning. When I am going downtown to the Library for the noontime book review, or on Wednesday to the peace vigil in front of the Capitol, I will walk. And I often walk to the local Price Chopper just about a mile away, maybe stop at the Muddy Cup for a cappuccino, or get a book from the Pine Hills Branch of the Library. While I miss my daily walk-to-work, I try to walk to as many places as I can & as often as possible, glad to live in a city where walking is still an option.