Before moving to the city I walked the early morning paths of Stony Plain, Alberta:
…every morning I awake to darkness, slip on some warm clothes go into the kitchen and eat a grapefruit. I take some vitamins and swallow some water and go into the living room and throw a couch pillow on the floor and lay on my back and lift my legs in the air keeping them straight stretching my lower back. I get up put on my boots and jacket, retrieve my my walking stick from behind the door and go out into the cold air pulling the door closed behind me with extra effort because if I don’t it doesn’t catch closed.
I’ve been in my body pretty well since waking up but I sink farther into my body when I walk. I match every step with a swing of my walking stick bringing it down firmly. On the hard pack snow the metal tip I drilled into the end penetrates the surface giving my upper body complete stability even on the icy sections.
Two blocks from my front door I enter a field through a wide gate and begin to breath. I switch my walking stick to my left hand; it takes a dozen steps before my mitt finds its way through the black nylon wrist strap. I find my pace on the bulldozed trail that leads in a wide half mile arch to the back of the field. If there is a wind it always finds me on this stretch before I reach the cliffs of snow, dumped and pushed up by the town’s public works department.
I climb over a ridge made from the edge of a plow on the field’s south side and walk in the snow. The wind has constructed a series of snow drifts and I alternate between falling through to my knees and walking on top the snow crust that’s firm enough to bear my weight. When I reach the sheltered trail I’m warm from the effort. A snowmobile has helped make the trail through the bush and it’s easy walking although my stick with its brass ring I pinched around the base to keep the end from splitting catches the long tangle of grass under the snow as I pull up.
I now come to the paved trail and skirt it for just a few yards then head back on a snow trail across the creek through a hole in the page wire fence and find myself on a well trodden trail made by school children. At the far end is High Park school and I set out for a point between the end of a line of houses on my right and the school. My ankles turn and I’m off balance as I walk on the snow ridges made from hundreds of small boots.
When I get to the point I take a sharp right doubling back on the paved path that runs along the back yards of the line of houses. It’s good to be on firmer footing. I pass Morris and Sharon’s house and I bless it as I pass. Today I see Morris through the window sitting in his chair with a fire on. He’s a blur. I seldom walk with my glasses. After I bless their house I begin to bless others. I bless Sue and Gary and all of High Park then all of Stony Plain. Stony Plain is blessed before it awakens.
When the westward path moves beyond the houses I cut across a depression and hook up to the path running south. The snow is deep here. It’s had a chance to gather.
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