When I lived in New York, one of my favorite things to do was leave my apartment early in the morning and walk around the city all day long. When I moved back to Vermilion Parish, I became a driver again and I rarely walked anywhere except to and from my truck. I missed my days of walking, and assumed that they were long gone. But then one morning, I figured out that they didn’t have to be.
I had just had breakfast at one of the restaurants on South State Street in downtown Abbeville and walked to my truck. I had planned on driving to the library, but as I was putting on my seat belt, I realized that the library was only about five minutes away by foot. I remembered a time when I had walked twice that distance just to get to the grocery store in New York. I began to feel guilty about my carbon footprint on the world, and so I got back out of my truck and let my feet hit the street.
It was a picture perfect day, and on my walk I was surprised by incredible homes and churches that I didn’t know existed. Within minutes, I found myself at the front doors of the library, but felt sad at the thought of being cooped up in a dark corner on a beautiful day. So I turned back around and walked.
I discovered historic architecture, cool little eateries and quaint gift shops. I visited the stain glass windows of St. Mary Magdalen and then sat in the square and listened to the sound of the water bubbling up from the fountain. As I stared at the view of the majestic church and the Port Street Bridge, I realized that it was moments like that one, I missed most about slowing down and walking.
Since that day, I often park my truck in downtown Kaplan and Abbeville and spend hours walking. People stare at me with confused faces and occasionally someone will stop alongside me in their car and ask if I need a ride. I smile and thank them and let them know that I’m fine.
I told my mom one day about my walking and she said, “You better stop all that or people are going to think you’re weird.”
“Why?” I asked her. “Because I live with you?”
She ignored my snide remark (as she often does) but no longer questions my walking. In fact, she now joins me on some of my excursions. She makes me pick up aluminum cans from the side of the road and talks nonstop about people I’ve never heard of in my life. But we’ve grown closer and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.
I encourage all of you to find the time to walk through the towns of the area and down little country roads. Right now is the perfect time of year because the weather is beautiful, and Vermilion Parish is in full bloom with azaleas and roses and flowers of which I don’t know the names. Walking is not only great for the environment and your health, but can also help you grow closer with others, and with yourself.