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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Walking the Walk - Piano in the Park

I really do enjoy a nice walk, and when Samantha suggested we go for a stroll around the lake, I was delighted.  Unfortunately, there are no pavements immediately surrounding our condo, and we have to walk up to the top of the complex, and then through some rough terrain, before reaching the neighbourhood above, which has pavements galore.  Walking through the woods is not unpleasant, and the wildlife can be breathtaking.  To have a family of deer cut across your path, although quite shocking for a moment, is always exhilarating.  The surroundings could make you think you were in the Dales of Northern England, where the literary Bronte sisters hailed.

A nice stroll around an historical site, or a place of interest, is always very enjoyable.  However, 'strolling' around Town Lake, is not really possibly. 

Last week, Samantha and I had some 'mother-daughter' time together, and after walking aimlessly around Costco, lunching on all the samples that were on offer, then whisking around Walmart for our weekly essentials, we decided it might be fun to take a walk with the dog. 

Four miles around the lake would not have been quite so bad, but no one actually 'strolls'.  Driving up to the car park, we encountered a lot of traffic, as there was a 'garden' show in one part of the park.  It was a beautiful day.  In fact, the temperatures were soaring.  We parked under a bridge, and I put on the walking shoes Samantha had kindly supplied, that would tone my legs and middle body regions.  We walked and walked.  Unfortunately, Samantha 'missed' the bridge on the way back, and we had to cut across the park.  She insisted she knew exactly how to get the car, but I had my doubts.  What seemed like days later, finally, I spotted our little mini, and almost crawled to the vehicle.  Dehydrated with blistered feet, I fell into the car and changed my shoes.  The air conditioning was never more welcoming.  I had enjoyed the walk, but the after effects were not particularly pleasant.

Repeating the performance this weekend, we decided to make a few alterations.  There was not much deviation from sauntering around Costco and storming through Walmart, but the trip to the park was less labourious.  It would appear that Cacti are not quite as tempting as other plants, as the Cactus Sale did not generate as much traffic as the previous weeks 'shrubs and tubs' market, and parking was not as limited.  I placed band aids on the parts of my feet that I thought would be of concern, and put on the special toning walking shoes Samantha had loaned me.   Having decided to walk around the lake, 'the other way', we set off.  Shortly into our walk, a young girl passed us; athletic, slim with great legs, I said to Samantha, 'I want her shoes!'  Another energetic form of perfection passed by.  'I want her shoes!' I repeated.  Young mums jogging with one hand on the stroller, and the other holding the dog lead, made my excuse of, 'they want to have a couple of kids, and then see what their hips look like', sound no more than an excuse.  Perhaps they just don't eat, or perhaps their shoes really are that good.  Perhaps they are just 'made that way'.  Oh well!!

Just before the half way stage, having avoided using the rather foul smelling park 'convenience', we reached the area where dogs do not have to be on a leash.  The dog refused to leave our side, once off the lead, and found other dogs rather intimidating, which confirmed our theory that he really is all bravado.  Last week he went swimming, mainly because he had no other option, attempting to escape from a dog for whom he did not want to associate, and the only way out was the water.  Today he chose to paddle in some shallow ponds. 

The slogan 'Keep Austin Weird', is often said in jest, but more often in sincerity, and the park was not going to disappoint the citizens.  As we were walking, I thought I could hear piano music.  We walked further and I was sure I could hear someone playing 'Black and White Rag'.  Sure enough, in a little paved alcove, a young woman sat at a piano, playing for her family.  Looking around for the cameras, the only one I could spot was that used by her husband to video the performance, for nothing more than a family memento.  As we crossed over the river at our half way stage, Samantha pointed out piano number two.  Not to be outdone, I sat at the piano, wearing shorts and t-shirts and my big floppy hat.  Samantha took the proof picture as I pressed down on the keys to play a very distinctive note.  As a couple of joggers ran past, they looked rather impressed.  Was I going to play 'Beethoven's fifth', or 'It's been a hard day's night' ? My rendition was most disappointing to all.  I played the one note, had my picture taken, and rose to carry on walking.  What did they expect?  A miracle? 

The other side of the river was slightly more shaded.  Watching trucks drive up to the edge of the river and slide kayaks off the back, made me rather envious.  Most boats were being manned by those who had managed to find perfect shoes, and they glided along the river wearing tiny bikinis.  At this point, all I could think was, 'I hope they have enough sun screen'.  I still don't really know if that was a maternal instinct, or the thought of having to wear clothes on top of burnt flesh, come Monday.  However, most locals don't suffer from 'lobster' syndrome, as I am prone.  Unfortunately, the distraction was not enough to take my mind off the impending need to use the smallest room in the park.  As a child, my mother called me a camel, as I could hold water for an eternity. Now I am as a high powered sports car is to a petrol station.  I cannot pass a water closet without going.  Definitely not the Hilton, not even as good as the Bates Motel, I had to make use of the facilities.  Seeing someone exit made me slightly more confident.  I was wrong, but I had little option.  I shall not belabour the experience, due to its unsociable content, but I am the victim of a vicious circle.  As I said, strolling is not really an option, and as the heat is quite intense, hydration is imperative.  Hydration leads to the need to de-hydrate.  Enough said!

Three and a half miles around, and I started to ask the inevitable question.  'How far?'  This was closely followed by 'What's the time', as if I could ascertain the distance by how far we had come.  My next comment caused the heaviest sigh from my long suffering daughter, 'We've been walking for days.  Is it Thursday yet?  We started on Saturday; didnt we?'  The answer is usually the same.  'Yes, Tracie, we are nearly there!'  Exasperated, I could hear the thought emit from her brain, 'Who is the mother!'  We continued along the path.  One of my favourite movies, is the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights, Merle Oberon plays the spoilt Cathy Earnshaw with such enthusiasm, almost hyperventilating with every sentence, finally asking Laurence Olivier, (Heathcliff), to 'Take me to the Window', and, as he lifts her and walks to the glass doors, she breathes her last breath, and flops weightlessly in his arms.  Using my best imitation of the flawless Ms O, I asked Samantha if she could, 'Take me to the Window', and then saw the bridge that would take us across to the car.  'Matnee, Matnee', I cried, 'I cay'in see thar bri'age'.  Clucking her tongue, and no doubt rolling her eyes, she replied in the affirmative, telling me that now was the time to pick up the pace and march.  The only obsticle was the bridge itself.  Phobias are not mercyful and the fact that not only was this bridge over a vast expanse of water, and could, of course, give way, at any time, despite having been crossed by thousands, possibly millions of people, it was under another bridge, made for the sole purpose of vehicular traffic.  Cars, trucks, Ten ton tankers, all hurtling over the river, over the bridge on which we were to march across.  Which one would give way first?  Deep breath taken, I embarked upon my final frontier, and strode as fast as my legs would carry me. 

'I see the car, Matnee', I wailed in my best Hollywood accent, and fell into Olivier's metophoric arms, namely the driver's seat of the car, and breathed my last un-airconditioned breath.  I may have flopped, but it was far from weightless, despite having perspired more than the rock climber on the anti-perspirant commercial. 

Arriving home, the dog raced upstairs to see Dana and hid under some pillows, as he heard Samantha filling the bath. 

As the season rolls out of spring and into summer, I shall be swimming, I hope, rather than walking, and as the temperature increases, and the mosquitos start to plan their summer vacation to anywhere that I may roam, aquatic exercise becomes more appealing.  I shall have to wait until Autumn to enjoy another masochistic march.

Today, Sunday, was Mother's Day in England, and a surpise of sorts was arranged for me, but that will have to be....another story.

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