The walking stick

So much fun is happening I can barely keep up with writing! I might say walking. We are having fun walking! Well, except those moments when I can’t seam to do anything right by Daisy. As annoying as those moments are, the fun, the physicality by far outweigh those moments. We are surrounded by beauty and sunshine.

Let me catch up…. We left the town of Mazarife home of few and one darn good Alburgee. An artsy Alburgee, beautiful and philosophical grafiti all over the walls everywhere. And most of the town fols were in the pub at the Alburgee watching futbol, drinking beer and checking out pelegrino’s especially the women. Poor fellows. A small town, not enough women to go around and well us women walking through might have the goods but…. that is where it ends. Poor fellows. Very fun Alburgee. We left early on our way to a village called De orbio 17 kilometers away. The walk was a hard one. Hurting feet, not quite enough sleep. Sleep is the clincher. It can make or break a day especially for Daisy.

I made Daisy a walking stick, a branch from a dead popular tree. A rather ugly stick, but it worked and well it turned out to be a really fun stick. The branch splayed out on one end kind of like a really ugly broom. But that thing held flowers tucked in the pieces of splayed wood and when flowers wilted it became a broom for all kinds of things. Daisy could sweep the trail, bushes, me anything she cared to sweep. We have been walking for days, weeks. Her stick is good entertainment- the simple things. Conversation has at times diminished to half sentences. A broom stick, now that was new stuff! And when she did not want to sweep she could clunk her way down the road. I had also ripped a branch off for myself. A small spindly kind of thing, but it works and it makes a great clunking sound while walking. I am quite pleased. The best part of my stick is that it has a little bit of a branch sticking out right at the height I hold it for walking. A hook for my opposable thumb, at least that is what I call it- Apparently a very important genetic mutation that led to the survival of the human species.(according to the hominid museum back in Leon). I have an opposable thumb holder! And as weird as it sounds, it is really useful. I can actually put weight on it when going up steep hills or comming down steep hills and when it is flat well, it becomes a toy…..

Walking sticks are important. I never knew this until I walked the Camino. Our first day out in St. Jean Pied de Port, France, many walkers had telescope walking sticks and I was enlightened. Those sticks. Folks swear by their sticks, by their brands and how to use them. Some people hunker down and walk with their sticks like they are skiing over the trails. Others think the height of the stick is very important. Low is good because you can give them your weight and then get a bit of upper body work out too and then you can walk even faster…. Others are just grateful for the support. What I think people like most about their sticks is the noise. Click click click rhymithical click, those sticks are comming closer….. Closer and eventually pass us by…..there go a set of sticks….. many folks love their stick sounds. The sound helps to keep the pace. Especially the serious ones. Those would be the fast walkers. They are walking so clicky fast I don’t think they can hear the birds, but the can move.

I bought Daisy a pear of sticks, and I ruined one in the first 15 minutes of ownership. It was raining and we were on our way of a sprawling town. I crossed the road following the yellow Camino arrow. Daisy ahead. I noticed a woman dressed in a lace outfit tall high heels and thought she better be careful. (I also thought her dress was god forsaken ugly black lace skirt white lace top attachment). I stepped onto the side walk pleased with Daisy’s groovy walking stick and kaboom! I went down! I was a splayed out like an upside down turtle in shock. The woman in the lace dress bends over asking me if I’m all right and helps me up. Here I am passing judgement thinking I am so cool with this new walking stick.,…. and, miss lace dress is helping me up. Gulp. Grasias! I’m in shock. Daisy comes over and I show her the new walking stick…..bent really bad. I had fallen on it. A pilgrim (who witnessed the whole thing) comes over. Can’t speak English. Takes that walking stick and there in the rain slowly bends it back so that it looks decent…. And from that day on the telescopic technology of this stick is a tug of war. Somewhere down the line Daisy lost those sticks. I’m pretty sure she left them at the tourist office in Leon. No clicky sticks to walk with and do crazy weird things with. Daisy never did walk with those sticks like a pro. She used them more like, ….well, ….a swooper! She would swoop each stick around her side and land them in front. Weird, but worked for Daisy. Lots of clicky stick walkers gave Daisy (and I) recommendations. Lower the stick height, raise the stick height, Try keeping them behind where she gives more weight try the full stick swing… Daisy swooped. Daisy swoops her sticks because it is fun and somehow it works for her and the girl can move on those swoops like a pro in action. Why bother a good thing? The sticks were lost.

This is how Daisy got her broom stick. (which I have described above). However the day I made her this stick that brough her about 17 kilometers of joy, it was taken away. A friendly fellow who thought he was doing a good deed by gifting her with a beautiful carved nicely trimmed stick. This young kind man felt horrible that he had to turn us away from the Alburgee because it was full. We had to walk another 4’kilometers to the next Alburgee. A hell moment that we will always remember and not in a fond way. Some days are just plain hard walking. Could be the weather, cement, same kinds of visuals for days, physical exhaustion and mental weakness of a kind. Daisy was having a hard day. She was physically exhausted and hurting. We were on our way to the (full) Alburgee looking forward to the rest. When we found out we had another four plus kilometers To the next Alburgee. Those 4 kilometers were long and hard though we were on a most beautiful path. Daisy cried. She cried not for the long walk. She just lost a good friend. Her broom stick replaced by a tall thing whose hand hold was made for big hands. She did not want to touch this stick. She borrowed my stick. I offered to walk back and go get her broom stick. No. I empathized as I loved my scraggly and bouncy opposable thumb holder stick she was now using. I understand how attachment happens to our sticks. I walked with her stick. I commented on the sound – nice deep tone. I noticed her new stick could take some serious weight. And it was a gift! How spiritual is that? I’m not kidding! I don’t know many others who have been given their sticks. That to me is special and some kind of affirmation from the Camino. I continued walking with her new stick and at some point I encouraged her to send thanks to her old stick, let it go and see what happens, including the possibility of letting go of her new stick and finding something new.

Honestly, I was not to crazy about Daisy’s new stick. It was heavy and to big for my hands. I tried something radical, I turned the stick upside down and began walking with it. It worked. The weight of the stick low and a much smaller hand hold. Interesting things began to happen. The once clunk side of the stick now in the air had a cool flat design worth noticing. The hand held worked and the weight could be swung with the help of gravity when walking. Kinda fun and easy going.

The next day, Daisy said I will take my new stick back. She noticed the changes with the stick upside down and thought she would give it a try. I was relieved. I liked my scraggly stick. She continued to keep the stick inverted and now, many days later she can swirl her stick several ways. Through her hands like a batan and around her waist pack and all. She can poke mud holes, and that stick will swing through her hands with gravity and come down with a grand sound. It helps with the pace and weight and she can move like a mountain sheep with that stick. She also learned how to go down hill by a German man who said give your but the weight, not the knees. You can do this by tightening the muscles in your inner thighs where they go into your but and literally bounce your way down the hill, while still I of course taking care of your knees. She tried the new walking technique in the pass we have been walking over and down. The combination of her clicky walking stick and bouncing knee to but technique the girl can fly. She has had to wait for me until she taught me how to move down mountains. Me. I will always be slow on the down hill especially my hiking coyote friends know, but for me, I was cruzing! I was, passing up those clicky clackers, and many other walkers and right down the mountain slopes we went. One morning we did five kilometers in a little over an hour. Surprised the both of us.

Daisy will not be able to bring her walking stick home if it makes it to Santiago. She is aware of this and me to with mine. Although each day I am surprised my walking stick still works.

I do like those telescoping walking sticks they are pretty cool. Camino Bob from Connecticut somewhere in front of us. The same guy who told us to drink five quarts of water a day, (we still have not achieved- but try). Bob said he loves hi Leki walking sticks. Light and powerful, good handles. He said Leki had has a free stick fixing policy. He has sent his Leki’s back to the company three times. (He uses his sticks a lot). The last time he put a note and a $20.00 bill wrapped to the stick. The note said I am happy to pay you to fix my stick you have fixed it several times already and I do not mean to take advantage of your company. It is just that I love my sticks. Leki fixed his stick and sent it back with the $20.00. Bob is a believer. I herd Bobs story early on. I did not understand why he would like this brand until I broke Daisy’s new cheap stick and then in the sports stores, which are pilgrims city hide outs. Pilgrims I have learned love good gear. So much for simplicity. Any way I have been looking at sticks and I have to agree with Bob. If you like those clicky clacky telescoping sticks, go for quality. Leki is it. And you can now purchass rubbers for your sticks to remove the clacky sound and give you friction on hard trails….. What this world is comming to. For now, we have our cool groovy and free walking sticks and we are proud stick walkers.

Xo,Kelley

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