The Countdown has Begun

Today is 18 March, a Sunday and it is a significant day for me. Yes, it is the day after St. Patrick’s Day, but that is not why it is significant. It is because in exactly one month, on 18 April, I leave for France to continue my long walk from where I ended last year, in Saint Chely d’Aubrac. It is a tiny village on the Chemin de St. Jacques, part of the French pilgrimage route which joins the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I still have 670 km to go to end up in Pamplona, which is where I started all this five years ago. At about this point, I start to get a little anxious about my plan. I started very late with my training, since it was winter here.

Although relatively mild, there was a lot of ice so walking was quite treacherous and I took advantage of that to not do much through the winter months. Now however, I have only a month to go so I can’t slack off any more. About two weeks ago, I started walking an 18-km route from my home and I have done that every two or three days since then. I walk with my pack, boots and poles to get as close to the actual walking setup as possible.

As the snow has melted, the walk has become easier … and I have learned quite a bit about my fellow humans. The winter snows cover up everything on the ground, including stuff that ought not to be there in the first place. The first thing I noticed was that we are treating ourselves more healthily that ever before. The classic litter of beer bottles and condoms has reduced, to be replaced by milk containers and empty plastic water bottles, so we are now a much better quality of litterers. On one stretch of the walk (along the Second Line extension, for those of you who know Kanata), there is a new subdivision and along Second Line, there is a sidewalk and a high wooden fence, presumably a sound barrier for those living next to the road. Earlier when I walked along here, I noticed that there was a lot of dog shit, and a lot of that from large dogs. Presumably, when people walk their dogs along here, they don’t all pick up after their dog. A lot do, some don’t.

But some folks are unclear on the concept. On the past couple of times that I have walked along here, I have noticed many small plastic bags, neatly tied and lying alongside the dog shit. So someone has walked their dog along here, noticed the dog squatting to do its thing, then tidily cleaned up after their dog, like any good citizen would do. Then, when no-one is watching (I am speculating here), they quietly and surreptitiously drop their little bundle of joy on the edge of the path. I find the behaviour awful and I hope that they feel guilty every time they do it. Of course, maybe it’s just one person although, if it is, he – or she – changed bags from white to black, since both are represented here.

So I have a month to go and the countdown has begun. I cannot help remembering about my high spirits last year before I took off on my abortive journey in France. Perhaps this year I will be older (that’s a given) and wiser (that’s not).

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