Diary: June 17, 2018

Walking Home Diary
June 17, 2019

A friend lent me a kayak and accompanied me on a short paddle along the shoreline of Boot Pond this morning.
I was a little wide for this particular kayak, but even wedged in to this little green bean of a boat it was a pleasure to waddle through the water, to squint into the bright, reflected morning sun looking for snappers with their heads up out of the water, red bellied turtles sunning themselves on logs and dock steps, locals casting their lures.
The conversation was off and on, at first, as my friend was more nimble and quick in her ‘fitted’ craft and was often a good 50 yards ahead of me but then a third voice chimed in though from what direction it was not clear at first.
It was Jeanne, a friend too, and resident of Das Boot, and she was actually sitting on her deck, well up a hill on the side of the pond , listening to our conversation as if we were seated across from her, sipping that first cup of coffee.
Her words were startling in their clarity.
A momentary flush of embarrassment tinged my cheeks as I realized that she had likely heard every word I had spoken for the last several minutes, the conversation that I had tried to toss my friend’s way, and that I had asked if this were where Jeanne lived.
What else had I said, I wondered at that moment?
That’s a lesson that despite 30 years in Plymouth I have yet to fully learn: that this is a small town. That, like the voices on a pond, our words travel far beyond our little dimple on the water and are overheard in surprising places.
What a gift.
When I took my trial walk, from Charlton to Plymouth, this past spring – testing equipment and philosophical assumptions – I was startled at how successful we as a society have been at producing isolation.
The roads I trudged over were not meant to be walked upon.
The newer developments were all but unreachable, except by car.
Where the highway passed overhead roads and rivers and trails and neighbors were deliberately severed whatever the consequences to wetland or neighborhood.
On that week-long sojourn I came to exult at the sight of a sidewalk, a seat at a Dunkin Donuts (the only community gathering place in most of the towns I walked through), or a road shoulder that was wide enough to walk within without risking life and limb.
That week I can number on one hand the conversations that I had.
All of Plymouth is not like Boot Pond, circled by dirt roads, bisected by forest paths, teeming with wildlife and filled with families that have lived in the same houses for generations and note with interest every coming and going.
All of Plymouth is not as close and familiar as it should be but much of it is.
It’s a wonderful place to live. It will be very difficult to leave.

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