Saturday, January 5, 2008
On the day after Christmas, I climbed Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, AZ with my husband and older daughter, Erin. It’s only 1.2 miles to the top, but it’s a difficult hike because the trail is very steep and at times it requires both hands and feet. I have four broken fingernails to show for it. We reached the Echo Canyon trailhead to begin our hike at the same time as a mother with her young children.
Mother: “Move over so the FAST HIKERS can pass.”
Me: “No one has ever called me a FAST HIKER before. Thank you so much for that!”
When the real ascent began a few minutes later, my husband and daughter, who are fast hikers, left me in the dust (and rocks and cacti). I told them to go. It is not fun for them to have to slow down and wait for me; it is not fun for me to try to keep up with them. I enjoyed my hike at my pace, which was, in my defense, faster than the mother and her kids.
I have always been slow. My mother says that I was born three weeks late and that I haven’t been on time since. I posted my Christmas Wordoku two days after Christmas. I am the last one to finish a meal, the last one to get to the car when we go to church, and definitely the last one to reach the top of the mountain. I don’t always like this about myself, but I have learned to accept it. I look for support wherever I can find it. My favorite fable is The Tortoise and the Hare. My favorite Bible verse is “He who is last shall be first.”
This brings me to the word “shuffle.” I listen to oldies on my iPod Shuffle. With or without tap shoes, I still like to perform the “Shuffle off to Buffalo” that Dorothy Lundstrum taught me in 1959. My sister, Nancy, can shuffle a deck of cards backwards and forwards, but I can’t. Finally, as it relates to being slow, when I say I am going for a jog, I am really going for a “shuffle.”
My jogging shuffle is a little bit faster and more energetic than my walk; but runners, and even some walkers, pass me all the time. I shuffle like an old lady pushing a walker, but there is no metal contraption in front of me and my mittened hands are tucked inside my sleeves to keep them warm. I shuffle down the walking path at my own speed and I try to ignore the critical comments.
Girl from kitchen window: “Pick it up, lady!”
Man in front yard with leashed schnauzer doing its business: “You’ve got to go faster than that!”
Man about to LIMP past me on Theodore Wirth Parkway: “Are you recovering from an injury?”
Even Katie Holmes got criticism for running the New York Marathon because it took her 5½ hours. I don’t get this. America is full of overweight, out-of-shape people. It is time we begin applauding everyone who makes an effort to stay fit, no matter how slowly they run or, in my case, shuffle.
There is a Palo Verde tree at the top of Camelback Mountain that is fully decorated with Christmas ornaments. It’s terribly tacky and wonderfully festive at the same time. Ian and Erin were waiting for me there to have our picture taken after our climb. The photo tells it all: my grin is just as big as theirs. It doesn’t matter that my trip to the top took longer.