What inspires someone to start hiking, or in Richard Gardner’s term, begin “learning to walk?” What compels one person to run marathons, another to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, and yet another to circumnavigate lakes?
This memoir provides a window into the motivation from Richard’s perspective, using flashbacks to formative events from his life. Richard began a habit of walking in two places in Rochester, NY – around a reservoir high on a glacial hilltop and on a beach along the shore of Lake Ontario. Walking allowed him to slow down and notice the small things. He shares these astute observations with his readers.
For example, one day while walking around the reservoir he tries, unsuccessfully, to correct the erroneous geography of some tourists by explaining that Toronto is west of Rochester, not to the north. He closes the chapter with the poetic words: “These visitors find the city panorama an interesting view. I find the viewers interesting. They provide a view into the cultures of the world, further than the horizon, true north.”
As he walked, Richard learned to cope with life’s challenges and find joy in the natural world. Walking can do that to a person – re-root them – and inspire them to greater adventures. For Richard, these small walks led to a passion to hike around lakes. It also opened up a passion for writing. “Learning to Walk” is the first of a trilogy of books. In the next two books (available late 2012) he’ll be sharing his insights from hiking around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. I’m hooked.
“Learning to Walk: Book I of the Trilogy,” by Richard Shade Gardner, is now available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions. It is also available at Simply New York, in Rochester, and Artizanns, in Naples.
By Sue Freeman, thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail, author & publisher of 14 outdoor recreation guidebooks to central & western New York State through Footprint Press, Inc.