Most of us have pounded the turf and felt the burning in the feet. I never had a license to drive until I was 29 years old. So walking was my way of traveling on this land. You have a different perspective of what you see by walking because you are traveling at a slower pace. Walking does wear on your body. Today I should walk more but my ankles ache and my feet burn when I do. I do plod along more slowly. This is what I wrote about the time I walked from New Orleans, La. to Cynthiana, Ky. I speak of more than one place in this piece but the burning and the will to continue is what I was looking for when I wrote this piece. That trip was in about 1963. I heard the song Mockingbird by Charlie and Inez Foxx during this trip. I always assumed that it was Carly Simon & James Taylor. I listened to just a hint of that song online and it is great.
Walking, walking, walking until it hurts. Moving
along the highway, walking on the hot asphalt. Stepping into the grass
and weeds when a roar and wind of a vehicle comes by. Walking and the pain
move to your ankles. Your feet are hot but you continue because you cannot
stop until you reach your goal. You see a green apple with gray gold scars
in a tree along the edge of the road. You pick the apple as you move along.
The tartness of the apple almost dries your mouth but your body is eager
for nourishment. No one stops and the heat is on your shoulders as your
forty pound duffel bag digs into your body. The weight aches and you are
eager for nightfall and the coolness of a shade tree. The air is wet and
steamy and your clothes are wet and damp. You are thrilled when a cool
breeze blows over your damp body.
The nights are noisy with the sound of crickets and frogs. There is a darkness out in the country at night that is not available in the city. There is no warm glow of lights, or hazy night fog or smog to lighten the country night. When you lay in the grass and look up at the sky you can touch the stars with an out stretched arm and hand. You lay and ponder this darkness and those bright lights and drift off to sleep. You wake in the morning stiff and well rested. The ground and the tall grass are wet and so are you.
Walking, walking, walking until your ankles hurt and burn. You have to move across this state, you have to reach your goal. Sometimes the streams along the road are clear, deep and cold. They are a refreshing moment for your tired burning ankles. You sit and soak the deep pain in the hot sun in the shade. The water moves swiftly and sparkles like a lovely dream. You know that you have to move on. You have to walk on. Maybe someone will stop. No one has stopped. You try to lumber on, you plod on, and you continue to move forward. You wonder why you are there.
Walking, walking, walking until your ankles hurt and sting. The roads winds over the low mountain pass. Refrigerators on porches and old cars surrounded by weeds are my view.
Sometimes your mind is on automatic, a place where there is no pain, no worry. You plod on not knowing where you have been or caring. There is no sense of traveling as your mind is lost wondering why no one picks you up. You are offering excuses to the world. Miles pass in a day and someone picks you up and you move fifty miles or ten miles closer to your objective. When you start walking again you are reminded of the burning in your ankles. You throw your bag over your shoulder and you try to find a spot on your shoulder that does not hurt.
You walk on.
I walked everywhere, when I first arrived in San Jose I would walk or ride the bus to town. Most of my traveling was done on foot with no particular fancy stories. I saw just views from my eyes, sometimes on the buses I could view the streets of San Jose or as I hitched to San Francisco to see Cal Tjader I watched the cities as I passed through them.
I have walked a long time, I got a license to drive in 1968-70;
I am not sure I was dependent on my feet or thumb to move me along.
When I got a job at Dam 50 I walked along the edge of the water on the concrete for 8 hours. I have sympathy for waitresses as they work and move from table to table; I tip them well. They walk until their feet burn and then they walk on, they have work to do. They walk on. A lot of the friends that I have made have been waitresses I have always loved women and ladies who walk to work. They have to walk on.
.Words & Graphics by Tomas
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Natasha Mercedes Purcell