Montclair


Second Day of the Last Week of MyBigWalk

Guy Whitlock Goes to the Head of the Class

On the third day of school I rushed out of the house and arrived at Mt. Hebron Middle School at 7:20 (five minutes late for school, some things never change!).  Guy Whitlock, the school’s new principal, was easy to find.  At well over six-feet  he was  taller than everyone else in the main office and that was a good thing because everyone was clamoring for his attention.   Crisp and cool in white shirt and tie, Whitlock’s expression was focused, sharp, thoughtful and — when it broke into smile — sunny as hell….

It was picture day, and the school office was filled with boxes and books, students and teachers, ringing phones and pressing schedules. Shall I come back for our scheduled walk another day, I asked.

“Every day can be like this,” Whitlock said with a broad smile and easy shrug as we set off for his morning stroll around the school. “It’s a big learning curve.”

Every so often you come across someone whose light and energy is unmistakable. Guy Whitlock is that kind of man… to read about the morning walk I took with him, please visit Baristanet.

And remember, walking to school is a great way for kids to get fresh air and the kind of relaxing cardio exercise that gets their day off to a great start.

Day 361 354 (Oh hell)

David Allen walked 32 miles around Manhattan Island in a single day. He started in the morning and headed clockwise from the Southwest  to keep the sun out of his eyes. That took some knowledge of physics and sun angles, n’est pas? But I don’t need to consider Photo Montage of David's Walk (from the NYT)his superior math or algebra skills to know that he did something I haven’t done (yet): thirty-two miles in a single day replete with blisters, sunburn, and urban adventure.

Writing in the New York Times this Sunday Allen said, “Circumnavigating Manhattan is the ultimate and extreme city walking tour and promises the seemingly impossible: a path less traveled on an overly trodden island. Half sightseeing tour, half endurance test, the journey at Manhattan’s edge takes you into the shadows of 19 bridges, through as many parks and past art installations, city landmarks and 360 degrees of ever-changing views.”

For a year about ten years now I’ve been thinking of walking the entire circumference of the North Jersey town where I live.  Montclair is roughly one mile by six miles. If I had some math skills I might be able to figure out how many miles around that would be. I’m guessing about 14. Which means it would take me a single afternoon.

Since I’m not getting to Rome or Barcelona to mark my 365th day of walking, I’m thinking that might be just the right adventure to culminate my year. Because you know what they say, right?

There’s no place like home.

Day 347

I walked into my local town hall in a press capacity for the first time in ten years today.

Ten years ago — the year I turned 40 — I was a reporter for our local newspaper and spent many afternoon and evening hours in that very building covering government matters and town meetings. I started out nervous that year and grew into  the job  with the help of seasoned reporters and editors who gave their patience, their guidance, and sometimes their frustration to me.

I thought fondly of our younger selves  this morning as I parked my car and walked through the parking lot toward the double glass doors.   It’s not often that we get to retrace our own steps and remember how much has happened in our lives and in ourselves since we last walked the same path. And here’s what I was thinking  – it’s not really  the same path as it was ten years ago. It looks the same, but it’s been trod by many people, with many hopes and dreams and fears. And it’s not the same walk, because I’m not the same person. We’re never the same people we were when we last crossed even the most familiar threshold. Every day, every year, experience changes us: some things make us stronger, others weaker; some richer, others poorer. But everything pours into the same place — the richness that make up the fabric of our lives and of our selves.

Are we always the same, or are we never the same? I say both. This morning and yesterday morning, last year and this year, a decade ago, and myself at 50: I had the same name, the same heart, the same soul.  But they’ve been repaved, worn down, built up, broken, cared for, made fun of, and loved.

That’s an awful lot to think about when you’re on your way to take a photograph of school crossing guards being sworn in. But that’s the kind of thing I think about — so that you guys can peek in here from time to time and think to yourselves either — “Man, she’s nuts,” or “Thank god somebody else can articulate how I feel living in the gray area I call my own life.”

Probably, hopefully, you think and you feel both ways. As I do.

Day 225

More than a thousand people took part in the annual Tour de Montclair  this Sunday in my town. The community bike ride is a fundraiser for the nonprofit group Bike&Walk Montclair, which advocates for safe streets, pathways, and biking and walking accessibility  in Montclair and its surrounding towns and parks.

2010 Tour de Montclair

The tour is a great opportunity for families and friends to cycle or walk through town, enjoying our own backyards as summer approaches.

I caught up with the Kansagra family loading up their bikes at the end of their 8-mile ride through town.  Payal Maniar and her husband, Nilesh Kansagra (first and sixth from the left) who just moved to town in March, were joined by a niece and nephew who came out from Princeton for the day with their parents.

Nine-year-old Rohan said the ride was “great,” and his sister, seven-year-old Raina, thought it was “amazing.”  The weather was lovely, and I really love the color of those t-shirts, too!

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