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The People of Medicine Lake

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Toast and I decided last night to walk around Medicine Lake. To see if we could do it. Around the whole lake—all 7.8 miles of it. I’ve never walked around a whole lake before, at least one that is of any decent size. We made it just fine in about two hours with just a short stop for Toast to take a swimming break (her favorite thing!). My hips are sore this morning and I’m a little tired, but otherwise, feeling great. Toast is conked out on the floor—sleeping. Tons of people were out last night… walking, riding bikes, sitting by the lake talking, walking their dogs, kids swimming at the beaches. I feel strangely awkward meeting people on the walking path, pretending we don’t notice each other as we pass within 36 inches of each other. So I usually greet people. Most people try not to make eye contact as we approach each other, I notice. But when I greet them they almost always seem happy to greet me back. (Why wouldn’t they? We all come from the same species after all.) It probably helps to have a dog walking with me. “You can trust people with dogs.” (That’s what one woman told me recently.) Especially if they’re holding a filled poop bag (which I did for about 1.5 miles until I could find a garbage). I mean, who walks around with a filled poop bag except only the very conscientious, responsible type? So, what’s not to trust? I passed a herd of women. Walking—or getting in shape—for a breast cancer walk. They had official-looking tags around their necks. Two groups of them—probably six in the first group and three in the second. The second group was especially friendly (maybe because they were less “driven,” since they were the slower group). They got all cutesy about Toast and smiled a lot. Women are especially enamored with Toast. They’ll smile and say things like “pretty dog.” Or, “what a beautiful dog.” Sometimes a guy will say something similar, but it’s rare, and it’s always an older guy who’s usually walking a dog himself. There were not as many guys walking and biking as women. And they were usually with a gal, biking or running. Guys usually are riding a bike rather than walking. They seem more intense—riding for a workout. Whereas most of the women seem to be walking… usually with another gal, and fully engaged in conversation. One guy who was stopped on his bike, looking at the map of the lake, obliged me and took the shot of me and Toast on my cell phone. One big German Shepherd was especially jealous of Toast when she got to go swimming. The Shepherd wanted to go too, but was constrained to just sit and watch as Toast jumped in and played fetch with a stick from the shore. We passed one group of women who were sitting at the park at a picnic table planning out their next Bible study, or book study. I overheard them debating whether they should begin with a prayer or not and trying to figure out how “spiritual” to make it. I think you could easily walk around the same lake, meet the same people, and conclude that “people are just not very friendly.” Maybe they aren’t, really. Or, maybe it just depends on your own demeanor and perspective. I find that most strangers on the walking path are happy to greet others, and are usually very friendly, but they usually don’t initiate it. But since I like to greet people… I’ve found that people around Medicine Lake are usually a pretty friendly bunch. (Toast agrees.)

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