By Ralph Hood
I was gonna wait and write this column for my upcoming 80th birthday, but heck—I may die before then, for all I know!
I thought I would age with dignity, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Right now I have an afib heart, a nearly-constant backache, and some fake teeth. Gail and I do walk, most days of the week, on the beautiful trails surrounding Erwin.
Gail, BTW, is not aging. She walks faster than I, so she starts at the bottom of a trail. I drive five minutes up the road and start uphill on the same trail. She always catches up with me as I limp along with my cane.
Not long ago I was plodding along on the Appalachian Trail, delighted with the beautiful scenery, when all of a sudden I stubbed my foot on a root and dove—that’s the only way I can describe it—off the trail and found myself embedded amongst twigs, trees, weeds, and who knows what else. My ear was bleeding all over my head.
Everything happened so fast that I do not remember stubbing my toe, nor falling, nor hitting the trees.
Miracles really do occur. While I was still trying to escape from small trees, giant weeds, and a mouthful of leaves, Gail arrived. I was delighted to see her. She helped me extract myself, and I began to believe that I would not die right then and there.
The COVID isolation is difficult for those of us who love to talk. Gail has heard everything I ever had to say, and—no thanks—she has no desire to hear it again.
When I meet new people I immediately consider them to be a brand-new audience. I try to stop before their eyes glaze over, but—more’s the pity—I just can’t shut up. Somewhere today I imagine they are telling others about the talkaholic man they met on the trail.
This COVID isolation does have its virtues. I don’t have to shave, so I don’t. As long as I stay in the house it isn’t necessary that I wear neat clothes. I just pick something off the floor and put it on. At this moment I’m wearing one white sock and one black sock. As the famous poet Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “never the twain shall meet.”
Many say the isolation depresses them. Yep, I know what they mean—but walking on trails will solve that to a great extent. Watching rapids or water falls as you walk can bring you to peace and quiet very quickly.
Thank goodness Gail is both a good cook, good company and, thank goodness, forgiving!
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