The Evening Walk

Oct 5, 2015   //   by spadmin   //   Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

sheaIt always begins the same way: a small voice insisting “This way!” often accompanied by a firm pull of the hand. Even if I wanted to, it would be hard to say no to my regular evening walks with my two-year-old son.  Because this is no ordinary walk – it’s to a bridge that runs over a railroad track, allowing us to “watch trains.” But I’ve found a simple pleasure in our walks there and back, even if they sometimes make us late for dinner.


With their curiosity and short attention spans, toddlers are the spokespeople for valuing the journey as much as the destination.  Our first stop is in front of our neighbor’s bush, where we’ve seen a rabbit hanging out in the past.  My son will point and exclaim, “Bunny! Bush!” regardless of whether he’s there or not.


Further down the street, our neighbor’s dogs are another popular attraction. “Hi doggies!” he shouts and then counts “One, two, three, four, five!” even though there are only two. He stops at an oak tree to search for acorns, finding and balancing the top of one on his pinkie. Crouching down, he watches lines of ants marching along the cracks in the sidewalk. Other observations he makes throughout the trip relate to the passing buses, the colors of parked cars, a line of white rocks, statues of geese in neighbors’ gardens, and pink flowers.


Our relaxed pace allows me to converse with my neighbors, who are spending time on their porches or yards.  They comment on how much he’s grown or the frequency of our walks.  I think we’re a neighborhood fixture.  I like being part of my neighbors’ lives and them being part of mine.


As we go, my son and I often hold hands, my fingers wrapping around his small ones.  But even now, he’s started to drift away from me.  When we first started our walks, I gripped his hand and I’d pick him up to cross the street.  Now, our hands are loose and I sometimes let him go as long as he’s on the far side of the sidewalk.


When we reach the bridge, we amble up to the second level, his short legs tired with the distance.  We usually see just Metro trains, our local subway.  If our timing is right, we’ll see the commuter train, which is so close to the bridge that the noise hurts your ears and you can feel the wind as it passes. Sometimes, a big freight train goes by, chugging along with so many cars that even I lose count.


Along the way, each moment is an opportunity for him to notice something new and let me know about it.  He loves sharing his perspective and world with me.  In turn, I try to listen as best as I can.


His physical and mental pace forces me to slow mine as well.  At work, even when I’m just sitting at my desk, I’m rushing through the day, trying to do as much as possible.  When you’re trying to work for the common good, it feels like you need to work at breakneck speed to solve Big Problems.  But these walks remind me of why I do my job.  The simplicity of a leaf is so small and yet holds a wealth of beauty.  The ants are easy to ignore, but each has their own place in the larger ecological web. People are faceless as a crowd, but everyone is somebody’s neighbor.  It’s good for not only my son to learn these values of respect and appreciation, but for me to remember.


This is not to say that I always revel in his lackadaisical approach.  The phrases “Let’s go” and “Come on” have escaped from my mouth so many times.  I frequently carry him home so that he can get to bed at a reasonable hour.  I check my phone app for the Metro to see when the next train is leaving the nearby station so we don’t have to wait if nothing is coming for ages.


From home to the bridge and back, my son is showing me the value of simplicity in just under a mile.

Shannon Brescher Shea Shannon Brescher Shea headshot-2loves her family, her community, biking, good food, and social justice activism, usually in that order.  When she’s not dragging her husband and two-year-old son on adventures or at her day job as a science communicator, she’s exploring the process of parenting and growing up herself at her blog We’ll Eat You Up, We Love You So and tweeting @storiteller.


  • I love how your walks have hooked you into your community in a different way. Thanks for sharing this!

  • […] Sprout because I needed to speed up the pace. Whether that was because we needed to get home from our walk to watch trains or avoid being late for church, it simply took less time for me to carry him than for him to walk. […]


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