This morning I was on a long walk from downtown Durham back home and as I passed near the Northgate dog park area I noticed an older woman up ahead of me. She appeared to be near the area for the larger dogs but didn't have a dog, which I thought was odd, so I just shrugged and headed around the park. I then realized she was calling out to me, so I paused my iPod and walked towards her a bit. "Ma'am?" I said.
"Are you walking through?" she said, pointing to the direction I was going.
Weird, I thought. "Yes," I answered.
"Good! Then I'll walk with you," she said.
Um, WEIRD. Right? But I waited for her to walk over to me. She was probably in her late 70s or early 80s, white hair, blue oversized workshirt, pinkish pants and a broad-brimmed hat. She wore athletic shoes and carried what I thought was a strange looking walking stick in her right hand.
She then walked with me as we passed from the dog park up past the infamous Museum of Life and Science bronto. She said that she often used to walk this way with three or four other women, but that they hadn't done that in a long time and this was the first time she'd walked down this path in six or seven years. She said that she used to volunteer for Meals on Wheels, five days a week from 8:30-2:30 (!) but that she had given that up recently since they moved from the downtown senior center. Her original plan, she said, was to go there and walk on the treadmill this morning, but that she really felt like getting out and walking around the neighborhood instead. We continued walking slowly -- "now you walk on ahead, don't slow down for me," she said, but clearly I wasn't. I was a little worried that she might stumble and fall on the uneven path, but she was pretty steady. "I brought my old broomstick to keep me steady," she said, identifying her strange walking stick.
As we neared the bronto she talked about the recent attack on it, noting that "there are terrible people in this world." We saw the newly reattached head in place and she said that it looked good. "Hello! You look so frisky this morning!" she said to the bronto. And I think she was right, it did look a little more jovial than usual. Maybe it's just me but it looks like the head is a little more turned now, a little more, um frisky.
We got close to Murray Avenue and she asked where I was headed. "Way up near the Eno?" she said. She and her walking friends used to continue on the trail past the museum and on up to the hospital, but she decided that she would just turn on Murray and head back towards her home. We spotted a man walking his dog about to cross the street, and she inquired if he was going to walk on the path back to the dog park, but he said he wasn't, so she continued up Murray.
"I enjoyed our walk!" she said to me as she left.
"I did too, ma'am. You have a nice day!" I said. And I continued on my way home, still trying to figure out exactly what had just happened.