Thursday, February 16, 2012

Solvitur Ambulando

A lonesome train on a lonesome track --
Seven coaches painted black --
A slow train, a quiet train
Carrying Lincoln home again; 

    -The Lonesome Train by Millard Lampell

I have lost weight recently.  I attribute it not to any radical change in diet but in my walking a nearby nature trail.  Steeped in history, it was the railway that Lincoln’s funeral train rode on when transporting his body to Springfield Illinois.  It is now a trail where I have seen countless blue herons and even bald eagles.  It runs along a quiet stream and a small falls.  It is as delightful in Spring as in the dead of winter.

I often picture it with a slow-moving locomotive chugging up the small inclines, with smoke billowing over the trees. The tracks are gone. There are occasional markers left from that era though.  Local preservationists have rallied to keep the small gingerbread stations along the way and have rehabbed them into much needed restrooms.  The mile markers are still there. I measure my distance with those Victorian signs better than any pedometer.  I have yet to hike or bike the distance to the other historic landmark, the Mason-Dixon line, but that will come with the better weather.

It twists and turns along the countryside. It is  delightful, quiet, and allows for the few chances to walk and think. I take the dogs sometimes. And I walk and walk.  I don’t do much walking in my usual routine.  The suburbs guard against that.  But this is a time I carve out for myself.  I cherish it.

Many others escape to that trail too.  There are scores of women in groups that dress alike, sound alike and I suppose need each other for support.  There are men in every grade of running attire from cut-offs to expensive Under-Armour garb. Most people are pleasant, nodding as they pass or saying a cheerful “Good day.’ And why are the friendliest dogs always the ones with muddy paws?

I recall the  Latin proverb:

Solvitur ambulando

Translated it means “It is solved by walking.” There are many interpretations to those simple words.   I have taken the translation both figuratively and literally with recent life events. So on any given day when people can’t find me either by sight, cell phone or creepy iPhone GPS, you’ll know where to find me.  I am on this road with you, Mr. Lincoln. I am just trying to find my version of home.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article.
    Taking "solvitur ambulando" both figuratively and literally is the starting point of a revolution, a quiet revolution whose time has come, but it will take many more of us to see as you see here, to get the message across.
    For what it's worth, my website is dedicated to the idea that the private car is the source of most of the world's problems, that walking is what humans need to do, not just for recreation, but in every aspect of daily life.
    Finding our feet in an ever-changing world is essential for our survival.