Walking to Work

co cent 0320
I have a ways to go on my back issues, and this arrived yesterday. Good thing I’m walking to work, where I also have a ways to go.

For one whole week now, Oz and I have walked to work. Sort of. We get in the car and drive to Lake School, my elementary alma mater that now exclusively caters to preschoolers and kindergarteners while also serving as the administrative offices for our school district. And then we walk.

The school was on our route from the old house. It’s about two blocks on the long side from the midpoint of that old walk, and is actually a really good distance for a walk-to-work commute. The last couple of blocks of that old walk, particularly on the lunchtime return, often felt very long.

I debated parking on Pine Street, either in front of Carol’s or Tia’s, except that Tia’s isn’t Tia’s until today, and I wasn’t sure if Carol would have AirBnB guests that might not be happy to see a strange car parked out front. I determined that Tia’s as-of-today house is an equal distance to work as Lake is, but Lake gives me a couple more of the zigs and zags that I enjoy, so I parked there, and it’s been like resuming my old commute.

This being Gunnison, I’ve already had one friend spot my car at the school and wonder what I’m doing there, but I was happy to report to her that I’ve been walking and getting caught up on my periodicals, and my mental health seems to have improved. In just one week!

My guesstimate was correct: it takes 15 minutes, at least with a dog in tow, to get from Lake School to Pat’s (where my roof mitigations, including another hour yesterday, appear to be keeping water out of the ceiling). Add the five-ish minutes to drive from home to Lake, and so far I am keeping my lunch “hour” to one hour 15 minutes, which is where it was in the Before Time of the previous week.

What I haven’t tried doing yet is tacking on an afternoon bike commute, which has the possibility of extending my “hour” by another 15 minutes. So I’m still only at half my commuter exercise level, although Lynn pointed out that my hours on the roof ought to make me feel less guilty about not riding a bike.

My favorite magazine to read while walking is Colorado Central. I could probably just say it’s my favorite magazine to read, full stop, although I do also enjoy my National Geographic History, and learn things I should know from AARP and my electrical co-op when I read their publications.

But of all these, Colorado Central is best suited for reading in motion. The history magazine is too stiff and requires both hands; AARP’s pages are too big in one magazine and too thin in the other. Colorado Central, printed on newsprint rather than glossy paper, holds its weight better in a breeze, and the pages turn far more readily under gloved fingers.

But it also features monthly columns from people I know, like Martha Quillen and George Sibley, and people I feel like I know after reading their columns for many years. And the people, often artists of various sorts, who are featured in the features, are people you could run into, if you frequented Salida more than I do — until I become a dermatological regular. (I have also been reliably informed that the place to eat when in Salida is the Patio Pancake House. I’m giving it a try later this month.)

Even with my week of reading, I still have a lot of catching up to do with my favorite magazine. Most of our mail appears to have painlessly and seamlessly changed addresses, but for some reason the editor-publisher of Colorado Central really, really struggled with this.

While Lynn assured me her employer, the U.S. Postal Service, would forward my magazines, it wasn’t until I passed George Sibley’s house one day that I realized I hadn’t seen any Colorado Centrals come across my space since our move. I e-mailed Mike, the publisher, who informed me that the Post Office returns them at his expense, and he sounded rather aggrieved at this.

But I’ve seen the return labels, and they clearly mark our new address on them, so why he sent out, month after month, magazines that kept getting returned rather than changing my address I don’t know. Finally in December he sent an entire package of all the issues I’d missed, and in February I finally started tackling them. He also never sent a bill for my renewal, so I had to ask for that as well.

I did read, just yesterday while walking to work, about his woes with distribution, and increased postage and printing costs. He’s been at this 10 years now, after taking over from the Quillens, and in this internet age you have to admire anyone who wants to hang on with the periodical biz.

Here I stop myself before I launch into a lament about the decline of newspapers in this country, because that’s like 10 blogs-worth of materials right there, and I realize that this has become far less about me walking to work than it is about my reading preferences. Although reading and walking to work go hand-in-hand, so I imagine on some level it’s germane.

In addition to being “public” parking at the school, public as in everyone in town will soon see my car there and wonder if I’m now working at the school, as my friend did, there’s also the part where I got out of my car the other day and a woman came on the school loudspeaker — I mean, right as I exited my car — to announce the school was going on lockdown.

Her fairly gentle tone suggested a drill (which is sad, since in my day we only had to worry about fires) but perhaps she looked out the window, saw me, and decided a lockdown was called for. I’ll have to see if it keeps happening. Then I’ll know for sure.

Yesterday Oz, and possibly me, scared a cat, who arched its back and puffed up, big as it could get. It made me realize this is the same advice we give ourselves when encountering bears: puff up and look big and scary. Do you suppose that works any better for humans fearing bears than it did for a cat fearing a dog? (Fear not: Oz was on his leash, and after a whimper or two promptly forgot about the cat and moved on.)

We have located a familiar yard now filled with three new dogs (the house recently sold), but other than that our week-long commute feels comfortable and familiar, and it is good to be on the move once more with Colorado Central. I feel better already.

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