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Walking through so many questions

A soft slurry of clouds blurs the early moon. The filtered light gives a dreamy, watercolor quality to the silver lichen that cover the bare oaks. As I walk through these stands of trees, the branches reach up as if asking for answers.

I’ve walked through so many questions. When thinking, talking, wondering and puzzling bring no peace, hand me my walking shoes.

This evening I walk with my sweet husband, his fingers loosely entwined in mine. So much to say, but we have already said it all. An unsettling diagnosis. Now a time of waiting for appointments and opinions. I no longer expect answers, but a trail marker with an arrow pointing the way would be nice. We walk, the silence interrupted only by our footfalls.

We marvel at a high-flying hawk and watch him arc across the sultry moon. A welcome distraction. I’m always looking for signs. A bird soaring effortlessly up and up will do.

As we walk, I remember a stroll of several miles I took after getting a phone call at work that my pregnancy test was positive. Of course, this was over 40 years ago, before the time when home pregnancy kits give instant results. This news was the fulfillment of a deep longing. I wanted some time to savor it all on my own. I walked the city streets to my husband’s office to give him the news. Each step was a wish for a good life, for this baby, for us.

But it was also an awakening: I worried that breathing in all the exhaust fumes would harm the tiny new being. Somehow, even though my daughters are now grown, worry for their happiness, for their peace, persists. Sometimes walking doesn’t help.

But sometimes it does. During their adolescence I discovered that walking with my daughters was the best way to find out what was troubling them. I learned that if I just kept silent and let our steps fall in sync, eventually they would open their hearts and the words would come tumbling out. Sometimes airing their problems under panoramic skies allowed them to gain perspective: their issues seemed small in the vastness. And sometimes the problems dissolved in the infinite depth of the blue above.

Now adults juggling marriages, motherhood and work, my daughters find time to walk together at least three times a week. Their four-mile route takes them through tranquil neighborhoods, into bird-filled parklands and past bustling coffeehouses. They don’t tell me everything they talk about, but that’s OK. I believe in the value of their walking together.

When my husband and I decide to end our walk and turn toward home, the darkness settles in around us. The air gets instantly colder. We naturally move closer together, seeking warmth. We walk, the silence interrupted only by our footfalls. The slurry of clouds blurring the moon has turned that mysterious orb to glistening gold. In the deepening dark, it seems a hopeful color.

Anne Batzer lives in Sams Valley.

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