Social Losses


Yesterday morning I was out for a walk, camera in hand, to get some exercise and, if inspired, make  photographs.  I try to do this every second day.  In the spirit of true confession, I have to say that this week has been an embarrassment.  I’ve been out walking this one time, so far, and that’s it.  I’ve promised myself I’ll do better.

As I passed a view point overlooking the Bow River valley, I stopped and looked at the empty pathway below.  It was about 9 am and that pathway looked lonely.  At that time of day, our Cochrane Men’s Walking Group should have filled the trail with twelve or more guys, all closer to each other by less than six feet, with many small clutches of men chatting to each other.  The rampant and dangerous virus in our world has forced rules on us that leaves such socialising but a memory—at least for now.

I met the men’s group in 2014.  We had a common interest on a particular day which was to attend the opening of the pathway between the riverside path near the Spray Lakes Sports Centre and the eastern end of 1st Street East.  Lloyd Manning from the walking group was there and told me about how they met three times a week and that I was welcome to join.  I showed up the next week and have been walking with that collection of ‘mature’ men ever since.

I started off thinking that the whole thing was about the walking exercise, but it turned out to be much more.  However, the social distancing rules we are living with now have removed a large part of my enjoyment of getting together, which is the socialisation and support that the group offers its members.

We are an eclectic gathering of men—men of a mature age in life.  Some of us might even admit we are ‘old’.  We come from differing career backgrounds, from different parts of Canada and the world, and with a huge collection of skills.  It is a great environment to ask for help with a task or for advice.  Advice is never hard to find.  Of course, there are lots of stories to be told, some from long ago and some from the day before.  If one has new aches or pains there is always someone who has similar challenges.  I certainly have received empathy for the increasing arthritis pains in my knees.  Even with our gathered physical challenges, many are out with the group to walk, come rain, shine, snow, and cold.  That feature of our group has always amazed me.  Knowing some of the men will be out walking challenges me to get up and out with the guys on those winter mornings when doing nothing in a warm house seems like a better choice.

A highlight after every walk is a gathering at one of our local coffee shops.  That’s also where a few members who are no longer walking with the group meet us to keep in touch.

All this is in abeyance for the time being and yesterday, when I stopped at that viewpoint, I realised how much I miss our gathering and walks.  Many of us stay connected via the phone and emails, and some even with FaceTime or Skype, but it’s not the same.

Who knows when we’ll get back to our thrice-weekly walks together.  Right now, at the start of
April 2020, it doesn’t look too promising for the near future.  In the meantime, I’ll keep these images below in mind as I trek the trails and paths around our fair town of Cochrane by myself in an effort to keep some remnant of fitness in this 76 year old body.  Of course, I’ll be keeping my ‘social distance’ from others on the trail.

At Mitford Pond

The Gathering on a cold winter morning    (I told you they turned out)

The West Trail

Fall walk-CMWG-web

The East Trail