Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Watch Where You're Walking"

One of the earliest admonitions I remember was my mom telling me "Watch where you're walking!" The two reasons I remember her saying it were (1) because our chickens ran loose and there was chicken doo-doo all over the yard and barn yard and (2) because there were boards with nails sticking out of them laying around.
When we were very little, she would wash our feet for us if we stepped in the s--t, or scraped it off our shoes if we weren't bare-footed. I still remember when she quit washing or scraping for me - I began being more careful where I stepped!
And, oh my gosh, the nails! It seemed like every summer as soon as we started going barefoot, one of us would step on a nail. To the doctor we would go for a tetanus shot. Sometimes even if it was one of the other kids who stepped on the nail we would all get shots. Maybe there was a discount for multiples?
I liked it best when Dad took us to the doctor (which didn't happen more than a couple times) because he would take us across the street to Hill's Locker and buy us a frosty cone. Dad's cousin, Carolee Duncan, worked there one summer. She had the longest blond hair and was so pretty. I thought she must have been a princess.
Watching where I was putting my feet must have become a habit. Even when I was walking with shoes on and no chickens in sight, I kept my eyes down. I began finding money. It was mostly dimes and nickels, once in a while a quarter; rarely paper money.
But even a dime could buy happiness. After Kenny and I separated, I had no money to spare. It hurt me that I couldn't even buy Doug an ice cream cone. Our apartment was north of the court house. We were walking down to the park when I found a dime. We kept on walking right on down to The Clown where I bought him a ten-cent twist cone.
Later that summer, after he and I moved to Mt. Vernon, we were still in the 'being careful with money' mode, even though I was earning more up there. One Sunday we were walking down the dirt road east of our apartment at Sproston's when I found a five dollar bill. We went on to the bowling alley and bowled a game. It was fun even though Doug was hardly big enough to lift the lightest ball.
"Watch where you're walking" has other connotations, of course. Mom may have had them in mind as well as looking out for crap - maybe 'crap' of a different kind, like getting into trouble. "Look before you leap"; "keep your eyes open"; "leading with your nose"; "keep your nose clean" - those were all cautions I heard from my mom.
I still tend to walk with my eyes to the ground - on a beach, looking for shells or beach glass; on a dirt road, looking for pretty rocks; in a parking lot being careful not to step in gum. But mostly just so I don't trip over something and fall. At my age, who knows what damage I could do?

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