“Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors…disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
When I started Little Red Walking Hood, the whole impetus was that I get out of the car and onto my own two feet. Happily, this feat is much easier to accomplish now that we live in the city. Here there are so many shops, restaurants, and funky little hipster havens nearby that Damon and I have little choice but to set out most days at lunchtime on foot and see where we end up.

Today Damon and I set off to try the nearby Ridgeback Café.  We had been lightly bickering about what time to go, as I tend to like breakfast foods while he only wants lunch fare, so when Damon came downstairs and suggested we leave extra early I was shocked and pleased. Willy-nilly I wandered out of the house in socks and sandals, looking truly native. Yet it was the opposite kind of fashion that caught my eye. A smartly dressed couple walked past us, the woman dripping expensive jewelry even as she peered at us from around an enormous package of Charmin Sixteen Roll Extra Absorbent Double Ply toilet paper. The man, dressed dapperly in a suit, held foot-long french bread and a box of six wines. I  thought this a comical sight, especially sidling past me in my socks and sandals, but when walking a city on foot, you really must hone in on essentials. Superfluous is hard to carry.

Once seated at the Ridgeback Cafe, Damon and I were surprised to discover their specialty is crepes, especially given the urban atmosphere. A bit timidly we ordered a sausage and spinach crepe to share (that is our one rule of eating lunch out – we split a single entrée and drink water so that the bill stays under $15.00). It was beyond delicious. “This place might just save our marriage!” Damon declared, swoony over our lunch-time luck. “This has just the right amount of breakfast for you, lunch for me. It’s the perfect compromise meal!”

Damon and the kids are experts at compromising with me now, because they know how I feel about relying on the car. They are resigned to walking most everywhere, which is why when I craved ‘grown-up’ food this past Saturday night, Damon agreed to walk to the store with me for two fresh lobsters. Even though the one store with a lobster tank was two miles away, we set out happily enough, gobbling blackberries along the route, and eventually we had two clawed crustaceans in our grubby paws, accompanying us back home.

As we walked up the hill past the zoo I thought how amusing it would be if our two lassoed lobsters clawed their way out of the grocery bag and dropped to the ground in some sort of daring escape plan. The folks zooming past us in cars would spy a middle-aged couple chasing fresh Maine lobsters past the Seattle Zoo and declare, “Hmm…curiouser and curiouser!”  But, alas, our lobsters seemed timid and unadventurous, and stayed meekly hidden inside their plastic holding cell all the way to the cooking pot.

As we carried those lobsters down the P-patch hill towards home I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland. I was no longer just Little Red who’d lost her way in the forest, but Alice waking up in Wonderland. Everything was suddenly “curiouser and curiouser” and waiting to be explored.

“Will you walk a little faster?”
Said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us,
Treading on my tail.”
See how eagerly the lobsters
And the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle –
Will you come and join the dance?
So, will you, won’t you, won’t you,
Will you, won’t you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you,
Won’t you, won’t you join the dance?
 
Here in the city I feel there’s a purpose to my walking, too. It’s to join the dance, and walk into Wonderland.
 
(“Little Red Riding Hood” by John Everett Millais. “Lobster Quadrille” by Carolee Clark)
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