California Forum

I’m one of the last pedestrians in Sacramento. Ditch the car, and take a walk with me

Few people walk anywhere in this town. I know, because I’m one of those few.

Some people walk and run early in the morning before the summer heat sets in, and I see dog-walkers here and there. But I don’t have a car to drive, which means I walk at all times of the day, regardless of the temperature. I’m usually a solitary soul.

It’s challenging to appreciate nature’s wonders outside while walking in 105-degree heat. Surprisingly, my body has adjusted and feels relatively comfortable even when its only 95 degrees. Breezes are cooling zephyrs.

My body adjusting to the heat has resulted in finding retail stores and restaurants icy cold. It feels delicious to get back outside, to the healing balm of the natural warmth.


Sacramento doesn’t have a climate that’s conducive to walking, at least in the summer. But it creates a profusion of flowering trees and bushes, some of them fragrantly scented. Strolling along at two to three miles per hour, I’ve seen hummingbirds, bumblebees, butterflies, spiders and all manner of God’s creatures.

Public transportation gets me everywhere I need to go, adding another dimension to the car-free life. I witness countless kindnesses every day on the bus, and it’s not uncommon to strike up conversations with complete strangers.

On the light rail, I’ve met people from Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. My favorite was a schoolteacher of mixed heritage whose first and middle names were Caesar and Augustus. The diversity of races and faces is enthralling. The melting pot of students who get on the bus at Sacramento State adds to this wondrous mix.


In the August 2019 issue of The Atlantic, Michael LaPointe extols the many virtues of walking. He references the book “The Vintage Book of Walking: A Glorious, Funny, and Indispensable Collection,” edited by Duncan Minshull.

This book has been reissued in various editions since 2000.

Minsull notes that writers from time immemorial noted their enthusiasm for, “Ambling, rambling, tramping, trekking, stomping and striding.” Many claim they draw inspiration from walking that they find nowhere else. During the Romantic period, writers like Wordsworth and Coleridge would turn landscape scenes into poems or odes.

In contrast, Charles Baudelaire turned his back on nature and produced literature based on the grime of late 19th-century Paris that he observed on long walks. Numerous authors proclaim the more they walk, the better writers they become. Like LaPointe, I more or less composed this essay in a 3.5-mile round-trip walk to the library.

One notable benefit of walking is that I’ve lost 12 pounds in two months – free! no gym fees! – and at retirement age, I’m in excellent shape. So, on occasion, instead of getting in your car, take a walk. You may be pleasantly surprised at what occurs along the way.

Michael Durall is a freelance writer who lives in Sacramento.
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