No, this is not my tip for serving dinner to my family, this is a tally of found coins for the year
Photo: Chronica Domus
I have always been a walker, at least as far back as my failing mind can recall. My mother doesn't quite remember when exactly I found my legs as a toddler, but I'm sure that when I did, I ambled and sashayed with abandon. I recall early sturdy and sensible walking shoes always being purchased at Clarks' flagship store on Regent Street in London. This was certainly a fun adventure for us children being that our feet were always measured using their innovative electronic sizing machine. The contraption insured the best possible fit in terms of width and length and assured my mother that we children would be kitted out in the best quality shoes she could afford.
As a child Chronica Domus was very familiar with these styles of shoe
I am convinced my love of walking has something to do with the fact that I was born in England, a nation that claims walking as its most popular outdoor recreational activity. Walkers in Britain are even granted special walkers' rights enabling them to cross footpaths on both public and private lands.
The British walk for the sheer joy of it, taking in the air and sights of both city and countryside, decked out in their comfortable walking shoes and perhaps a waterproof jacket. Americans, at least in my part of the country, walk for sport in their yoga togs, hurriedly traversing their ground, and constantly checking their heart monitors or pedometers between refreshing sips of water from their bottles. It is all very exhausting!
My first post-college job required that I travel to London from my home in Kent. This was a grueling daily commute involving a motor coach and several trains operated by London Underground, as well as walks in between the two modes of transportation. All this before I even reached my office at 8.45 a.m. The entire commute was done in reverse during the evening mad rush to get home. I probably walked at least four miles per day during both journeys to and from work.
The Embankment tube station, part of my daily commute into the office
My honeymoon was spent walking for a week in the pristine Emigrant Wilderness, situated in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This was an entirely new experience for me and one that meant I had to negotiate the terrain of steep granite ridges and mountains (a rare sight in England), verdant meadows and lakes. That was probably the toughest and longest walk I had ever undertaken, a fact that stands true to this day over two decades later.
When I adopted my first dog upon moving to my new country, I undertook the pleasures of exercising her twice a day. A short walk in the morning, before leaving for the office, and a more leisurely one at the conclusion of the day.
During my lifetime of walks I have often spotted coins laying about in the streets and roadways, a penny here or a penny there. I instinctively pick them up. Will these pennies bring me luck, as the rhyme states? "Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck".
The first time I came across found money I was no more than a child of nine, playing at the local park. I recall the fiver wrapped around a scrunched up hand-written note instructing the fishmonger to fulfill "four orders of cod and chips, please". Surely, a child on an errand for his mother must have dropped the note and money on his way to buy dinner for the family. I felt a sense of sadness for the child. Dinner would not be served in the form of fish and chips that evening but I had no way of knowing to whom I might return the money.
A view of Main Street, Jackson, California where we found our loot (note: not much has changed since the 1930's, apart from the motor cars)
The greatest amount of money I ever found was an astonishing nine-hundred dollars, located just outside the door of a small bank in the gold rush town of Jackson, California. I was with my husband and some friends, and we had traveled to Amador county to spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast and to enjoy countryside walks and nearby towns. Obviously, it did not take us long to conclude that a customer of the bank had withdrawn the money and accidentally dropped it as they were leaving the building. We stepped inside the bank and made inquiries of the tellers. We were told an elderly gentleman had taken the money from his account and had only just left the establishment. We thanked the tellers and set out to find the man in hopes of returning the cash. It was an easy task as we immediately spotted the gentleman looking bewildered and upset. We approached him and asked if he needed assistance. The poor dear explained that he had just lost his son in a tragic motor car accident and had come to the town of Jackson to make funeral arrangements. The money we had found was intended to help with those costs. We were all dumbfounded upon hearing his unfortunate tale, but felt terribly satisfied we were able to return the money to the rightful owner.
Last June, I finally decided to seek the answer to a nagging question; precisely how much money do I come across during my day-to-day walks. I set myself the task of picking up every coin or note I found for exactly one year. At the end of it, I would have my answer.
At first, I found the odd penny strewn about on the pavements of my regular dog walking route. Then, I noticed that shortly after the local schools had closed for the duration of the summer holiday, the coins I found were of larger denominations. Quarters, dimes, and nickels had been dropped from the pockets and little hands of excited school-aged children on their way to the local shops, or perhaps a friend's home, or to spend the day playing at the local park. Incidentally, June was the month I found the most coins, followed by July and August. After the schools were once again in session, my luck had run dry and I was back to picking up the occasional penny. I did not find any notes during my twelve month experiment, although I did find eleven single dollar bills that were bundled together in a parking garage right before I started my experiment (so those don't count).
I have just tallied the coins, exactly twelve months to the day after starting my experiment, and found I had collected a grand total of one dollar and fifty-five cents. This was not exactly a windfall, I'll admit, but it was enough (barely) to buy a small cup of coffee from the local coffee shop. And, as for luck, I'm not sure if finding all of those pennies has made me a luckier girl or not. It has certainly trained my eyes to dart about obsessively upon the ground I tread. I must stop that now.
Do you enjoy walking, and have you found anything of value during your everyday comings and goings?