Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Walking Journal, Days Twelve and Thirteen

On Day 12 I walked to the local Meat Market to get pork chops for dinner. They have some good natural pork produced locally in Idaho that we like. And I didn't want to drive. The roads were pretty icy but the walk went just fine. Really damn cold, though, somewhere around 15 degrees at that time. A bit too close to Overland Road and some other streets that were busier with traffic than I expected.

Walking in areas with automobile traffic is much less relaxing and enjoyable than walking on trails, in the park, or in a more quiet neighborhood. The cars are just ridiculously loud and the exhaust is gross. Not having sidewalks on the neighborhood streets just adds to the "fun."

On Day 13 I walked to the local branch of the library to turn in some books for my wife and daughter. Along the way I met a woman from southern China who was also walking along the street. We had a nice talk and I convinced her that it was actually safer to walk on the banks of the irrigation canal when it was snowy than it was to walk on the streets or sidewalks, where the ice and slush accumulate. And it was. It has been so cold that none of the snow has melted, so the path wasn't muddy or icy. It was about 10 or 12 degrees, thankfully sunny with little breeze.

I got to enjoy a feeling that I couldn't quite identify at first, but now I think I've got it figured out. There are times when we get to be an expert on something that we are very knowledgeable about. That's quite satisfying. But there's another set of circumstances where we receive credit for being informed about something that we really don't know much about, simply because the average person knows even less.

In this case, the woman was quite surprised to find out that I had some rudimentary knowledge of China. I understood that the southern provinces of China are noteworthy for their entrepreneurial spirit and that there are a lot of Chinese from that region spread throughout Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia. Just the fact that I understood that China is a really big place with some very different cultural groups and dialects seemed to surprise her. Also, I was walking to my destination, which she found amazing given the weather and her experiences with Americans in the West.

However, I did fumble one thing. The walk takes us past a field with a horse. There used to be a pair of llamas there as well. I mentioned this and quickly found myself trying to explain what a llama was and what it looked like to someone who had never heard of the animal.

Anyone who knows me can swiftly surmise that I erred on the side of Too Much Information. I don't know if this woman will ever remember that llamas hum to themselves, that they are ferocious spitters, or that they can be used to guard sheep from wolves and coyotes. I'm not sure that my description--"imagine a smaller camel with more hair and ears that stick up"-- was very helpful either.

Anyway, on the way to the library, where I dropped off the books and returned immediately (the walk is a lot slower through the snow and on an icy street), the company helped me ignore the ridiculous cold.

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