I saw this rather archaic word this week on The Old Farmer’s Almanac Facebook site and decided to use it to describe a walk. The word “walk” sounds so boring sometimes. So, … this morning I perambulated to Meijer for produce for Buddy and me in order to beat the 4th of July crowd. I hustled out the door around 7:45 a.m. for this three-mile round trip, easy and breezy on this almost-coolish morning. It seems impossible that half the year is gone today and we’re ready to flip the calendar to July 1st already. My grocery list was in my head and before shopping I even added a few perimeters around the store for good measure. Of course, as usual, I strayed from my wanted items and picked up this and that and I soon knew I should have grabbed a handle basket, or better yet a mini-cart, since I was totin’ my load in my arms. Last year I bought this wonderful scrunchy little bag to schlepp groceries in. It has alot of roomy compartments, and a kangaroo pouch or two but that didn’t help in the store. I did the self-serve check-out and was on my way with room to spare in the bag. While carrying my grub home, I thought of a woman named Alice Barrow who, until her death, was a constant presence as she walked along Fort Street or Emmons Boulevard. She never learned to drive and walked everywhere. She lived with her elderly parents and when they no longer drove, you often saw her carrying bags of groceries from the local Farmer Jack supermarket. Before she retired, she worked for decades at a doctor’s office in the David Whitney Building in downtown Detroit, which necessitated two bus trips each way. Alice Barrow would forego the City bus in favor of a walk, trekking through downtown proper at least a mile to get to her job. She did this twice a day. She was skinny as a rail from all that walking and her year-round attire was a long, rust-colored trench coat, which was always flapping in the breeze as she walked briskly. Indeed, her tall, gaunt frame made her resemble the female counter-part of Ichabod Crane. Her iron-gray hair was shorn into a very short, mannish cut. She had high cheekbones, a long pointed nose and close-set eyes. Her very alabaster-looking complexion was totally devoid of makeup and she wore no baubles or bangles. You don’t hear the term “Plain Jane” used anymore but that would describe her to a “T”. Growing up, I remember the kids running along Fort Street taunting her or whispering and pointing at the “crazy, old spinster lady who walked all over Lincoln Park” … she never responded to any of their comments. My mom and I often commented to one another on her strange looks and one day we found out quite by accident she was the sister of our neighbor and my mom’s very good friend. So, of course we were relieved we never committed the ultimate faux pas of commenting about Alice to her sister Ann – whew! We never saw her visit Ann to possibly connect the two of them, however, one Summer, Alice Barrow and I were enrolled in an art class together. The class met on Wednesdays, which was her day off. I recognized her at once and befriended her. She was one of the nicest people I have ever met – rather a free spirit, independent thinker and I enjoyed her company very much. Of course, she was not at all like the picture my mind had painted after listening to everyone else’ comments or even my own observations. I only found out by accident when we walked out of our art class together, as she started walking the same direction as me and remarked she was she was going to visit her sister. Imagine my surprise when we discovered it was our good friend and neighbor. After that episode, I have tried not to form impressions until I get to know people. The old adage of not judging a book by its cover is true – Alice Barrow was a prime example. It is more important to interact with people instead of judging them on their appearance or demeanor or more importantly on the opinions of others. Who knows, maybe people now see me trudging along the streets of our City, in my well-worn sweats, my perpetual bun atop my head and my jangling lanyard, and they, too, scrutinize me much the same as they would have Alice Barrow. For so many years I was a slave to fashion and its trappings and it is good to just be myself, and perhaps I admit I am a free spirit as well. I march to the beat of a different drum, and like Alice Barrow, just shrug off any commentary that comes my way and march past it. And, as to perambulating, if I can manage to trek just a fraction of the miles that Alice Barrow trod in her days, I will be happy … perhaps I am truly following in her footsteps … and that ain’t half bad.