The AARP Bulletin's "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Below, reader Lori Indovina-Valus of McHenry, Ill., shares what she really knows about "long walks."
I grew up a city girl in Chicago. My friends and I rode scooters in the street and played hopscotch on the sidewalks. But in 1950, when I was seven years old, my dad built a small cottage in Indiana near Lake Michigan. I will never forget the day he held out his hand and said, “Let’s go look for wild strawberries.” I took his hand, and we started down the narrow dirt road, searching along the edges for the berries. It was the first in a series of walks.
We wandered the pathways and woods many times, picking blueberries and finding wild violets and lupines. We cut trails through thick brush to pick blackberries, our bodies covered entirely with long pants and long sleeves to protect against the thorns. We walked to the creek to look for frogs, and to the lake to collect pebbles. We searched along the dunes for nests of cliff swallows in the sand cliffs.
I thank my father for awakening in me the wonder of the natural world. I still walk and observe and appreciate. I photograph and paint and draw. And often I feel like my father is there with me, or watching from above, saying, “Let’s search for the wild things.”