By Bruce Stambaugh
I have found walking soothes the soul. It’s my favorite form of exercise.
As I’ve shared before, I wander regularly on a nearby township road that runs east and west down into a wide, fertile valley. The majority of the land serves as pasture and cropland.
A few residences stand along its path, close to the frontage. Long gravel lanes grace a couple of the homesteads, one on a hill overlooking the splendor, the other where an unnamed creek lazily flows beneath the chip and seal roadway.
It’s there that Red-headed Woodpeckers squawk from an ancient sugar maple tree, and swoop across the road to groves of black locust and black walnut trees, locusts on one side, walnuts on the other, the curvy creek trickling in between. There, too, Holsteins often slurp the pooled water they have just muddied.
I usually keep to the center of the road where the footing is flatter. Even with my diminished hearing, I can detect motorized vehicles and horse-drawn carts and buggies long before I need to scoot to the side.
It’s the quarter mile from my house to my walking road that scares me, which is why I wear a bright yellow hat and a reflective armband, even in the daytime. Still, I step aside when cars and trucks whizz by.
I enjoy my walk for more than exercise. Melodious songbirds, dashing flycatchers and gregarious swallows seemed to have grown used to me. They seldom leave their perches on phone lines and tree snags as I pass. Even the horses and cows pay me little heed. I embrace their acceptance.
Given all that, I appreciated a challenging trek my son, Nathan, recently completed even more. I walk for personal, positive health. Nathan’s effort was for a regional charity, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of East Central Ohio. They connect volunteer mentors with children desiring proper adult guidance.
Nathan walked 100 holes of golf in one day. He wasn’t alone.
For the second year in a row, Nathan and another member of the charity’s board of overseers completed what is officially titled the Hundred Hole Hike. Each golfer recruited people and businesses to pledge money for the event to raise funds for this good cause.
If you’re familiar with the game, golfing 100 holes in a single day sounds insane. The sponsor organization’s rules required they walk the entire time.
The two had excellent assistance throughout the day. Caddies kept them hydrated in the hot August sun, and provided energy foods along the way. To save time, they also produced the right club to play each shot.
Even then, the entire effort took 13 hours, and for Nathan, 424 shots. They started before sunup in the fog, and finished in the twilight beneath the glow of a brilliant, ivory half-moon.
By then, Nathan and his partner were exhausted. Their feet were blistered and their muscles ached. They logged 33 miles each.
My wife and I, riding in a golf cart, joined them for the last 20 holes. The fairway gallery also included three deer, russet in the evening sun. At the last hole, we joined other supporters in congratulating Nathan and Josh as they concluded the humanitarian, fatiguing endeavor.
I’m grateful to live where I can walk regularly in a lovely rural setting. I’m even more grateful for a son who cares enough for others that he walked far beyond the second mile for them.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.