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October 25, 2012

Walking, across the pond


up at. Shortly after starting to walk down the road in single file a car was pulled off to the side of the road and a man got out to consult a map. We asked him how far it was to the village and after a few minutes of pleasant conversation he offered not only to drive us to the next village, but to

ours, which was several miles away. When we protested, mildly, he said it was ONLY a mile out of his way and he would be happy to do it. Our weary bodies appreciated his kindness.

We managed to get lost a number of times, but always managed to reach our destinations albeit foot weary. While foot weariness can be trying, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from walking through lovely sheep dotted hillsides makes it worth the effort. Thoreau had it right when

he opined that the swiftest travelers travel afoot. The destination is not a place, but a state of mind.

The day after we got back home I headed out for a walk. Not long into the walk I started noticing yellow posted signs. It is uninviting enough to be reminded that trespassing of any kind is prohibited. Less neighborly are the threats of prosecution and the fear of having one’s jugular torn apart by a dog. Frankly, I have never actually seen a dog doing sentry duty but the promise of an encounter is enough to keep me moving in the opposite direction.

The ethos at work in England is that walking is a good thing and that while land is owned it is also, within reason, public space as well. Land is sharable space. That is a very different state of affairs than we have here. While land is owned, in every sense of the word, it is communal space as well. There is something very civilized about that. Here ownership implies exclusivity. Posted signs mean keep out, don’t you dare set foot on this land despite the fact that no one really owns land anyway. Nature owns itself and cannot be bought or sold. Our penchant for disrespecting nature, however, is quite another story. A friend said today that it would be nice if there were a public path along the shores of our beautiful lake. Perhaps that would be a start. Not a bad project to consider. Meanwhile I think I will pay attention to bright yellow stay off MY land signs.

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