Elliott and I have been pretty consistent taking our morning walks. This week has been a challenge. We've managed to beat the sun out of bed most mornings, but I'm not sure the humidity has slept this week. Fifteen minutes into our walk I'm soaked. Elliott on the other hand works up little sweat riding in his chariot waving good bye to the fire trucks (actually town maintenance trucks with flashing yellow lights on top).
We've been at our walks long enough now that we start to see some of the same people every day. Ashland at that early hour is like a separate community. It's like 8AM comes and they clear the stage of all the characters for the next scene of a long play. Only the next scene transitions into an intense fast paced drama - like real life.
We've seen enough 6:15 boardings of the Amtrak train to Washington D.C. that we're even starting to recognize familiar faces. But even these faces are relaxed and in no real hurry. You know they're not because they're taking the train. The 6:15 can be counted on to show up anytime between 6:00 and 6:45. We spend a little time each morning taking guesses at what each of these people might do. Of course politics is an easy guess given the destination. It's also an easy profession to rule out for many of the passengers. It is highly unlikely the tall thin man with long hair and a greasy ball cap is headed to lobby an energy bill, but the man in the suit that pulled up in the Cadillac Escapade might be. I wonder how many of them are doing what I'm going to do one of these mornings, ride up to the nation's capital and back just to say I did it.
We pass the man who asks if I have to wake Elliott up to go on the walk or if he is already up. Are there really parents out there who wake their toddlers up at 5:30AM just to have company on a walk? An if I woke Elliott out of a dead sleep at 5:30AM only to keep me company on my walk, would Katie render me legless and unable to take another step this side of heaven?
Then we pass the lady who has obviously had kids of her own. "Looks like somebody won't sleep this morning," making the obvious assumption that I'm walking Elliott through the middle of town in hopes he'll fall back asleep. She must of had kids before they discovered the backseat of a car works much better and is a completely air conditioned method of sleep induction.
There is an older man that sits on the porch of a corner house shortly before we get home. He reads his newspaper each morning and sips on a cup of coffee. Elliott is not a quiet walker so it's seldom we sneak up on anybody. When the gentleman hears us coming he lowers his paper and offers me the same advice each day - "enjoy your baby (a pause) - I sure miss my babies." I wonder some mornings if God hasn't placed that man and his reminder right there for me and me only. If I'm wrong, I thank him anyways. Each morning I leave behind the echo of his words and I do enjoy my baby just a bit more than I thought possible.
Elliott's walk highlight was the fire truck (the town maintenance truck) that stopped in the middle of the road to talk to us. A middle aged gentleman stuck his head out the window and let Elliott know he looked like he was getting the good end of the walking deal. Elliott’s confirming smile said tell me something I don’t know. He then told me that he was getting ready to be a grandpa and that he couldn't wait. I told him if his grandchild was half as fond of him as my boy was of his grandpas, he was in for a treat.
It was long after we arrived home from that particular conversation that I had to wonder - did that gentleman think he was sharing a story with me - one grandpa to the other. If so, it's definitely time to clear the stage and get on with the next scene.