QUINCY – Walking in the woods seems to be dangerous to my health.
Three times in the last few months I have stumbled and fallen over hidden tree roots, small and rugged rocks or cut tree stumps.
I’m on the floor almost before I know it. I’m not hurt, just bruised. I took a falling course a few years ago so I can stay loose when falling and roll with the momentum.
In the winter I was cross country skiing and it was a bit icy when it happened. There can be tricky, slippery patches of mud in spring.
Now when I have a doctor’s appointment, I often get a questionnaire asking, “Have you fallen in the last six months?” I’m tempted to say “no” because I don’t fall in my house or in everyday things.
“Get some walking sticks,” my doctor told me a year ago. She believes they are almost essential gear for older walkers and hikers. I struggled, thinking I’d keep my balance better if I just used my upper body and arms. Learning how to use sticks seemed distracting.
I’ll get some now. I see more people over 50 using them into their 90’s. I don’t lift my feet as high as I used to. My balance is okay, but not great. And there’s just a lot of things that can trip you up.
Inattention is one of them. Last fall I was with a walking group and probably talked too much and didn’t look down enough just as we reached one of the more difficult sections of a trail at the Trustees of Reservations’ Moose Hill Farm in Sharon.
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It was a small hill. Suddenly, my left foot caught on a small rock and I staggered forward, unable to regain my balance, and fell to the ground. Luckily I only chipped my left shin and scratched the right side of my face.
A fellow hiker told me that she had fallen about twice in the last year, both times breaking her glasses when she hit the side of her head.
As if that wasn’t enough, the next day I went out for a leisurely stroll, came across a tree that had fallen across the path, and slowly lifted first one leg and then the other over the trunk. I grabbed a branch on the tree trunk for balance. It broke off (the dead tree wood was all dried up) and I went back down.
I’ve also picked up long branches off the ground to use them to cross streams and found that they snapped as soon as I put weight on them.
On Saturday I joined Quincy’s Environmental Treasures program to walk the salt marshes on Fenno Street. I discovered Ginger Grassa and Andy Richardson from Braintree. Both use walking sticks. Ginger said she uses two sticks because they give her an upper body workout and more movement while walking. Andy uses a bar for balance because his vision is impaired by cataracts and he has bad knees. They put their sticks online.
Hiking enthusiasts have suggested several outdoor stores to check out the poles, which come in a variety of styles and sizes. It’s easy to find tips and guidelines online. AARP has an article: Hiking Poles Help Boomers Stay Active.
Paper Boy Nostalgia
Thanks to the readers who shared their fond memories of serving as Patriot Ledger’s paperboys in their youth.
David Traub, communications director for Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey’s office, said “both enjoyed the ‘A Good Old Age’ column about the switch to postal delivery.
“(Morrissey) had the same ledger routes that his father had a generation earlier and then passed them down to his siblings when he was done. I had the route my brother had in central Sharon. He used his income to buy his first boat. I used mine to buy my first electric guitar. I still play that guitar (a 1980’s Gibson Sonex) but he’s moved to other boats. He joked that it was “the best tax-free job I’ve ever had.” “
“True story: While looking for houses after our wedding, Carrie and I pulled into a driveway in Sharon Heights to look at a tiny house. We got out to greet the agent and we heard a voice call out from the next driveway over there, ‘HEY PAPERBOY.’”
“Sure enough, it was Mrs. Tilley from Summit Ave. who liked her newspaper between the screen door and the main door to keep her dry. (It was the second or third property we’d visited in Sharon where someone from childhood had come over to say hello.) My wife looked at me and said, ‘We can’t live in Sharon. I always will’ be David Traub’s wife.”
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“So we bought a house in Norwood.”
Peter A. North of Woolwich, Maine, wrote via email: “I was a delivery boy for Patriot Ledger in Westwood in the 1960s. It was a great job. I had to ride my bike outside where I was reporting after school and before dinner. The activity taught me a lot about people and money. I hope the kids today have an opportunity to learn something similar, but I’m afraid they don’t. I still read my daily newspaper, which gets delivered to my mailbox here in Maine, but now it’s the Wall Street Journal.”
In memory of John Quinlan
Sad news broke last week that John Francis Quinlan Jr, of Weymouth, died at home aged 101. On his 100th birthday in February 2021, John’s family organized a drive-by parade when six men from the city’s building department arrived at his home in a street sweeper, six-wheeler and other equipment. John had a 35 year career with the Weymouth Highway Division, from 1955 to 1990. He was the center of his three generation household, surrounded by attention and love.
Reach Sue Scheible at firstname.lastname@example.org
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