My Rogue and I have been walking the Riverfront Trail, a joint project of the city park system and The Washington Rotary Club. It is a much loved, scenic path that winds along the Missouri River as it passes by Washington’s Historic Downtown Area.
We have groaned and complained upon arising each day until we step into the truck, winding our way downtown to the trail, half-filled coffee cups with cream in our hands. Thank you, God, for coffee; especially on these early morning bonding adventures. Most mornings we are on the trail exceptionally early; the pathway can be very dark. The humidity is climbing already; by 5:30am the temperature is anywhere between 74 and 84 degrees, depending on whether Washington will experience a triple digit day.
One meets all nature of walkers; some with pets on leashes, two friends heavily engaged in catching up from the day before, some just on their own… A few greet us; others prefer to concentrate on their own tempo and listen to their ear buds. A bicycle passes by, with or without any warning. It is up to us to stay to the far right side of the path.
Were we to wait until later in the day, women with grandchildren in tow inside a wagon or specially made stroller might accompany us, even passing us by when we neglected to keep a faster pace. Children seem to flourish in this small but pristine town west of St. Louis; so, too, the elders, who take their walks along the Riverfront Trail very seriously.
Among the walkers are those who briskly pace, focusing on the aerobics of the moment. If one sees another more than a few times, a familiarity begets a quick hello. Sometimes, a bit of history is shared…
Did you know that it was 104 degrees fifty years ago today?
This gentleman explains that it is his fiftieth wedding anniversary. AHA! I conclude…climate change is just another history-repeating-itself occurrence. I congratulate the man, explaining that My Rogue and I will never make our eighteenth if he doesn’t straighten up! The man consoles my husband, explaining that he’s survived a good number of idle threats over the years! The handsome but grayed groom continues on, walking in quick time tempo.
Others walk along as we do, stepping at a comfortable pace; it is nothing short of a miracle that My Rogue can walk the one mile course; we are not yet ready to expand our horizons and lengthen the walk to the bridge; at least, not just yet. We have slowly become familiar with certain curves and markers along the trail. Some mornings it is so dark, I can barely even see the rabbits unless they decide to run across the asphalt path.
Mostly, I’ve spotted the small cotton-tailed critters nibbling on the grasses among the fallen leaves; a few spot us coming and immediately dart back under the brush! Others remain very still; had I not been wearing my glasses, I’d have passed them by; God does indeed blend the critters’ colors with their surroundings.
Rabbits with cotton tails. No overalls, unfortunately. Beatrix Potter surely had imagination. I’ve not once seen Peter, nor have I seen any rabbit with a tattered blue jacket, torn in haste from escaping Mr. McGregor’s garden. Big disappointment for this romantic but child-like observer…in fact, somewhat of a letdown, though intellectually I know I am not within a cartoonist’s cell or artist’s sketch pad…
This is about as adventurous as I get. No Sacajawea am I. I am definitely a City Frog. I’d have told Thomas Jefferson that the existing thirteen colonies looked good enough; we need not tarry any further, Mr. President. Then, I’d have cooked him one of my fabulous dinners…that, and a late nightcap, and Voila! America’s expansionist days would have ended.
For cheap entertainment, I begin counting the rabbits. I am joking along the way…counting and remarking to My Rogue that our morning walks now include our current position on “practicing safe sex”…we no longer kill rabbits, we just count them. My Rogue shakes his head, chuckling softly in agreement.
So, the City Frog and her Rogue continue, walking along the neatly paved trail, noting the birdsong and the trains – one, sometimes two, every morning – carrying coal or refrigerated perishables on their way toward St. Louis. Waving to an engineer was not a possibility where I grew up. Yes, I knew what a train looked like; I’d colored enough of them in my Southern Pacific coloring books from my godfather. But I’d never read anything that said it was against the law to wave to an engineer. So, I continue to be the child-like one, waving to the next train as it passes by.
You are just like a kid! I can’t believe you…do you really think he cares?
Yes; I’m sure he sees and appreciates someone’s greeting along the way.
Truth be told, it’s great fun to wave and enjoy this childlike freedom…I could never be a kid; even at age four, I was a proper but little old lady. All I could do was behave; pay attention; and follow the delineated rules of whoever’s house I was in.
The trains cannot blow their horns any longer here in our city limits; they can, however, change tracks when needed. On occasion, we run the risk of being “stuck” on the riverside of the tracks…sitting in our Ford truck with bottom of the cup cold coffee. I repeat: Sacajawea passed by here long, long ago.
I turn my attention back to looking for more rabbits to count; today, I’ve seen a baker’s dozen on our walk inside the trail, along the riverfront, toward the half-mile bench. We are on the return leg, slowly moving toward the parking lot entrance.
HeLLO, little wabbits… This is your fwend, Elmer. Come out…come OUT!
My Rogue is my best audience; I get another chuckle from him. But it is as I suspected: even rabbits are smarter then we; the smarter ones are probably still sleeping…it’s not even 6am yet. Not another appears, much less one approaching me and asking,
What’s up, Doc?