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In praise of Nordic walking poles

On a recent trip to Costco, the Silverback and I each purchased a pair of Nordic Walking Poles. We convinced ourselves we’d walk more frequently and more effectively with said poles in our hands. The first week, they sat in the garage, still in their boxes. Today, after deferring our walk from 9 a.m. to noon to 3 p.m., we finally set out at nearly 4 p.m. First order of business was determining what length the poles should be.

Me: Should they be ergonomically correct with the elbow at a 90-degree angle when the arm hangs down or should they be longer or shorter?

Silverback: I don’t know. Whatever’s comfortable, I suppose.

After futzing around with the things for at least 20 minutes we were off.

First, the dog did not approve of the sticks and was constantly checking over her shoulder to see if she was in danger of being stabbed. The Silverback attached her leash to his belt loop keeping her a few paces behind him. As the beta female who I expect to challenge me for alpha bitch any day now, she was not happy about this either. But such is a dog’s life.

Use of the sticks proved challenging too.

Me: How do we hold them?

Silverback: Not like you’re doing. The little feet at the bottom need to both point forward. One of yours is gimpy.

Me: Why would that matter? The surface area is like one square inch.

Silverback: Alright but when you start veering off to the side and walking around in circles, don’t come crying to me.

Me: I think we need to take a training course in the proper use of these things. I have no idea what I’m doing. Do we move the poles independently in a walking stride or do we use them like ski poles and we’re shushing across a flat part?

Silverback: I’m shushing.

Me: Was there a book or pamphlet that came with the sticks?

Silverback: They’re not sticks, they’re walking poles. And no, no manual. Just three different tips — one for all-terrain, one for sand and one for snow.

Me: (laughing) You’re kidding, right?

Silverback: No, I’m not. These are the all-terrain tips on them now. Watch out for that slug.

Me: (shuddering) Whatever. My shoulder hurts. I think mine are too long. (We stop for five minutes adjusting the length of my poles while the dog runs around off leash scattering her #2 business in her typical 50-foot radius.

We take off walking again, garnering a few stares from the younger crowd. Why wouldn’t they stare?

We get about a quarter into our usual route when I feel a pole poke me in the butt.

Silverback: Slow down a little will you?

Me: Where’s the speed control on these things? I can’t help but go faster and faster. It’s like wearing the magical dancing shoes. No matter how tired you are, the slippers force you to keep dancing!

Silverback: Well, that’s silly. Just stop for a second. (He catches up.) There! Was that so hard?

Me: You couldn’t have increased your speed to catch me?

Silverback: I do have the dog to consider, remember. I’ll bet no one’s seen people using walking poles around here before.

Me: We got them at Costco. That means we’ll see everyone and his brother using these things before long.

Silverback: Yeah, but we’re the cool kids who got them first.

A yard full of children point at us and laugh.

Me: Yeah, real cool.

Silverback: I think they’d make decent disciplinary implements, too.

It starts to rain.

Me: They should have put umbrellas in the tops of these things so they aren’t just pretty faces.

Silverback: I think they’d be better if they put weights in them, in the middle. Of course, I guess we could just walk with weights in our hands instead.

Me: I’ve seen people do that, and walk carrying umbrellas.

We continue to walk and nearly two hours and a Starbucks latte later, we’re back in our own neighborhood.

Me: These poles are all that are keeping me moving now, I’m so tired.

Silverback: I feel like I’m on autopilot.

Me: I’ll bet my arms are sore tomorrow.

Silverback: (laughs) Oookay.

Me: Do you think the kids even missed us?

Silverback: Probably not. Here we are. Give me your poles. I’ll tether these babies in the garage.

Me: Be sure to give them a good rub down. They worked hard today.

— Claire Gillian

Claire Gillian is the pen name for a number-crunching executive by day and a darkly romantic curmudgeon by night. Her debut novel, The P.U.R.E., was released in April 2012. She also writes 50 shades naughtier stuff under the pen name of Lila Shaw, but please don’t tell her mother.  No matter which name she uses, Claire is happiest penning romance drenched in humor with a dash of intrigue and loads of spice. She lives in the boggy Pacific NW with her husband and two teen-aged sons.

Reflections of Erma