This morning I wondered when I would be able to squeeze a walk into my busy day: with papers to grade, cabbages to chop, and an essay to revise, it just didn't look like the right weekend for a walk. But the day had barely started when suddenly a walk insinuated itself into my schedule, just between the time I abandoned the car on the side of the highway and the time when the nice man in the white pickup truck offered me a ride.
It wasn't a flat tire this time but something more challenging. I was driving my husband's car because he needed my van to haul all the veggies and home-made bread to the Farmers' Market, and I had a few errands to run before I joined him there, the most important being the task of getting the bank to change a bunch of 20-dollar-bills into ones and fives for the Market cashbox, so that I was carrying significantly more cash than I normally do, not to mention that I had my camera bag with all the fancy lenses in it and a travel mug (why didn't I leave that in the car?) and a library book, so when the car finally cruised to a stop in an unsavory neighborhood beside a busy highway, I was a little nervous. But what could I do? The car would not go on.
I can't really blame a 16-year-old Honda CRX with 185,000 miles on it for wanting to take a rest, but it could have given me a little more warning. I had no idea anything was wrong until I turned right onto the highway and tried to shift into first gear, but it wouldn't. The gearshift lever just flopped around as if unattached to anything. I let the car coast down the hill and pulled over when it ran out of steam, and then there was nothing to do but walk.
I walked past a house surrounded by a big chain-link fence decorated with signs saying "Beware of the Dogs." I walked past a construction site, quiet on Saturday, and a bar, closed at 8 a.m., and an old farm house with boarded-up windows and a saggy roof. I could see the interstate in the distance and hear the sound of trucks and travelers zipping past at 70 miles per hour, and I tried to send some silent signals begging them to take this exit and drive my way, but no. Pleasant day for a walk, I thought, but that was just whistling in the dark--if I could whistle.
Finally a local landscaper stopped and gave me a ride to the Farmers' Market, where I grabbed the van and finally got a start on my immense to-do list. At least I can cross off the walk--except it was never on the list to begin with.