Henry David Thoreau said he could not preserve his health and spirits unless he spent at least four hours a day walking. I'm guessing he had to give up his day job.
Wouldn't it be something to take Thoreau along on what we consider a walk today?
"About your shoes, Mr. Thoreau. Are those walking shoes, aerobic shoes or running shoes? They're regular shoes? Sir, we have different shoes for different sports these days.
"You say you walked 10 to 20 miles in those shoes every day and you're not about to trade them in now? Fine by me, but I hope you don't get shin splints.
"Sir, since it is early morning and dark outside, I was wondering if you'd mind clipping this reflector to your jacket? It flashes three speeds: steady, blinking and intermittent. If you clip one to the front of your jacket and I clip one to the back of mine, chances are we won't get hit by a car.
"Why are cars in the wilderness? We won't be in the wilderness, Mr. Thoreau. We walk on concrete these days.
"Wildlife? We'll hear some birds and a few dogs, but don't worry, I have pepper spray. I've never used it and always worry that I might shoot myself in the face with it, but if we need it, we've got it.
"Mr. Thoreau, I know you were big on sauntering, ambling and meandering, but we walkers today are about speed.
"Whose dumb idea was that? The heart people, the lung people, the fat police. We walk to burn calories, get the old cardio going, lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol and turn flab into muscle. What's your best mile, Mr. Thoreau?
"Walden Pond was your best mile? I mean what's your best mile for speed. Two hours, you say. And a really good mile would take you three?"
"I see. I wonder if you could pick up the pace, Mr. Thoreau yes that is a sycamore. It's the tenth one you've stopped to admire.
"The reason my walking buddy and I walk so early is because we have to squeeze it into the day. We can't all hang out in a cabin in the woods, sir.
"Yes, I did read that you liked to walk after the morning papers had been read and before the afternoon papers arrived. Mr. Thoreau, we don't get two newspapers a day delivered anymore. Just be glad we're not in Detroit. The Detroit News only delivers on Thursdays and Fridays!"
"No, sir, that's not a bog up ahead. It's a retention pond. I wouldn't go any closer if I were you. It's not a natural habitat; it collects run-off and has nasty sludge at the bottom.
"You find this walk unsatisfying? It entirely misses the point? But look at you! I bet you're up to a 55-minute mile! You can really hustle when you put your mind to it. What's your pulse rate? A man your age should aim for 135. We turn here, sir.
"What? You're heading back to Walden to the mink and fox, the rustle of the trees, the earth beneath your feet? That's the real way to walk?"
"Would you mind if some of us came "
Judging by the lightning speed with which he left, I will take that as a no.