Got up a bit later than usual, so was not out the door until after 7:30 a.m., and walking by 8:00. The crowd, naturally, is different, but not more numerous. It’s interesting to me that both times of the day seem to be peopled by retirees; you’d think that earlier in the day would draw a working crowd, but the only person there I can say definitively is a worker, is a fellow in his 30s who plods around the track hooked up to an i-pod (as so many others are) — he arrives in a plumbing truck, and this is obviously his trade. I don’t know how many laps he walks, but he’s usually still at it when I leave.
Other 5:30 a.m. walkers are a pair of women Of A Certain Age — maybe 50s — who go round and round at a good clip, talking nonstop the whole way, and a couple of men who have a look about them that I can only describe as “ministerial” — also 50s, maybe early 60s, tall, thin with just the hint of a paunch, but their faces are so peaceful. They look, not as if they are Communing With Nature, but just as if they are in fellowship with everyone else on the Common. Maybe they are.
Then there is The Trio. This consists of two women and a man. I know for sure that one of the women is 76, because she made a point of telling the immediate world about it when it was her birthday, and I take my hat off to her: She’s even heavier than I am, and she waddles around the Common, but darned if she doesn’t waddle faster than I do! Her companions are another woman who may be a friend or a younger sister — I wouldn’t go so far as to consider her a daughter — but the real “character” of the bunch is the man. Every day, he shows up in jeans and a long-sleeved denim shirt, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. He walks behind the women, holding onto his coffee mug, almost never saying anything, and I’m not sure if he’s protecting them or guarding them — someday I expect them to show up on a leash — or just what his function is, but he’s there Monday through Friday without fail. (But not, curiously, on Saturday or Sunday, when the two come by themselves.)
At 8:00 a.m. there is a different pair of women walking, housewifey types, also talking nineteen to the dozen but not race-walking like the 5:30 pair. There is also a couple walking, a man and a woman — I won’t say they’re married, because nowadays, who knows — but both are overweight and clearly walking for health. A couple of older gentlemen, probably in their 70s, clearly following Doctor’s Orders. The children are out playing on the playground across the street at the Children’s Home, and every morning, right around this time, a little knot of them appears, five or six, with little orange vests — and a nun, in full habit, also with her orange vest and sneakers, and a baby stroller. They go for a run every morning, all over town. This particular nun has been written up in the local paper as having begun this running program as a way for the children to burn off the negative energy they’ve built up from years of abuse. Apparently she’s on to something; all the kids look happy and healthy.
And there’s my favorite, a tall, thin man in a t-shirt and jeans who just ambles around the Common at a steady lope — for four miles. He always has a friendly word for nearly everyone he passes, but the thing that gets me about him is that gosh, he looks like my priest! The same facial and body structure, the same grey ponytail and shortish beard and mustache, even the same crinkly-eyed smile and sense of humor. What isn’t the same is that Father Michael doesn’t have a broad New England accent, even though he’s from New England (Connecticut).
And that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of walking on the Common: Listening to people talking to one another. It’s a comfort to know that regional accents haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, despite television’s best efforts.
I have taken a few snapshots of the Common at various times of the day, and will update the blog with them once I get around to downloading them off my phone.