I once worked at a law office downtown and walked to work. After some time, I visited a podiatrist for help with the pain in my left foot and ankle. I told him that it hurt when I walked to work but not when I walked home. His expression showed he thought this was either wacky or irrelevant. For myself, I wondered. I thought Maybe I’m in a rush when walking to work and when walking home I’m relaxed, which gives my feet a break. He made orthodics for me. After a time, I moved on to other jobs and the problem disappeared, or at least lessened. Even when I worked at a bookstore on my feet for many hours, the same pain did not recur.
And then I got a job at an office just 2 doors down from the former law office and started walking the same route to downtown again. The problem with my left foot recurred. This time I worked with a physiotherapist who told me my hips turned in. She gave me exercises to strenthen my hips, thighs, calves, and ankles. Squats, ankle raises, and exercises using a “step” all helped. And yes, it got better. But still I wondered: why does my foot hurt sometimes (especially when wearing those pink ribboned Sketchers) on the way to work and not on the way back?
One morning I noticed the reason — which was as obvious as the nose on my face — the sidewalk on Pownal slants! How could I not have noticed that before! On the way to work, it slants to the right, making me work to balance my feet constantly in my weak direction. On the way home, I often take Queen street, where the sidewalk is broad and level and my feet do not hurt. And in any case, if I take Pownal street home, the sidewalk slants now the other way, in relation to my body, which is not a problem for my feet to adjust to. Mystery solved!
Now I vary my route depending on my shoes and sometime take the West side of Pownal street where the sidewalk slants the other way. Just one more little story in praise of paying attention to the ground beneath our feet. And a big thank you to whoever created the gift of curiosity.
I took a look through my pictures of Prince Edward Island from this year so far and selected 12. Enjoy!
I arrive at 7:50 a.m. in my shorts and flipflops. The front door is open and I pop my head inside. Can I come in? I ask D, who is counting her till for the morning shift which begins at 8:00. Sure she says. People are already washing. She nods in the direction of an older gentleman by a machine on the far side; he must own the car with the veteran plate out front. I bring my laundry inside in my big purple trug from Veseys. I put two loads in the front loaders and one load in a conventional top load machine. D is complaining that J didn’t roll the change on the night shift. She’s having trouble reconciling her till to get going. When she has a moment, I get change for 3 toonies and start the machines. Two other guys come in, both middle-aged. Are you the fresh air inspector? D calls to the taller one. They talk about the weather. The tv has not been turned on yet. D is fretting about the pile of dimes so I help her roll them. I head home while my machines are washing and as I drive by her house, I see a colleague in her yard painting her deck dark brown.
When I return to the laundromat, the tv is blaring and there are 3 or 4 men there, none young, taking care of laundry. I give D several coin rolling papers, since she was short this morning. She says thanks and seems pleased. The gas drier No. 6 is free, so I load up my sheets and towels and throw in 4 spikey blue balls. I put 8 quarters in the slot and it starts going. I put the other two loads in smaller electric driers and select permanent press. I take out The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis and sit on the bench by the counter, reading. The men joke with D. I feel somewhat depressed by a story called The House Behind, in which the narrator observes and comments on an apparently senseless murder of a woman from the front house, by a man of lower class living in the house behind. I notice drier No. 6 has stopped. I put in another 2 quarters and read 2 more very short stories. When the electric driers are finished, I take out the clothes and fold them loosely. Some are still damp, but I plan to hang them up at home. I take the sheets, towels, underwear, and socks out of driver No. 6. I am pleased by their level of dryness. I shake out the fitted blue sheet before folding it and a black sweatsock, turned inside out, falls out. I wonder to myself about its journey – did it join my laundry in the washer, the drier, did one of the men mistakenly throw it in Drier No. 6 instead of drier No. 7 or 5? I gather my folded laundry together in the purple trug. I put the clean black sweatsock on the front counter for D. She is just outside the front door, talking with a smoking man. They are laughing. The atmosphere, even with the blaring tv, is congenial. Goodbye, I say. Have a good week.