Unless it’s raining, I’ve established the habit of going for a walk first thing in the morning. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, always with an iced coffee. I call my mom, call my best friend, listen exclusively to songs that sway my mood one way or the other. If it’s a good day, I listen to Bad Bunny.
The exact route I take isn’t always the same, but I go through the same neighborhoods, just tracing different paths. I see kids on their way to school, people walking their dogs, brush my hands through the wildflowers in someone’s front yard. There’s one house, pink and purple, whose fence is covered in blackberry bushes. One morning, I steal one, slipping it into my pocket like a trained thief.
Today I meet a soft gray cat, probably still in the first year or so of life, with scratched up ears and it twines its way around my ankles, meowing loudly. Last week, I found a house with chickens in the front yard.
I make it a rule to stop at every little library box I see.
I spot the world’s tiniest community garden, a slanted hilly plot maybe 10×10, overgrown with a handmade sign. “I street community garden” it reads, with the extremely helpful addition of several stick figures captioned “garden people, including me, Madeline.”
This walk isn’t for exercise, though it is an exercise. It feels like a ritual, a necessary daily ablution for someone with an anxious mind in a burning world. It feels like something tethering me to my home, to sanity, a small brick in building a life that feels good for whoever I am tomorrow. It is a practice of savoring small joys, of leaning into the little goods that are often trampled by the mundane that slip by without being noticed because you are always on your way to something to somewhere to someone.
My morning walk is never to anywhere, except for maybe back to myself, back to my home.