I wanna be that gull, er …

… gal!

Last November, I was bopping along the Bishop Park boardwalk and, in between photo sessions with the seagulls, I met an interesting person. You may remember I wrote about our encounter, as this petite older woman left me in awe and gave me cause to pause about MY own morning walking regimen once I reached the age of 90.

The chit-chat occurred after we were strolling in opposite directions on a brisk and windy Saturday morning. We were about to approach each other when a mighty gust of wind looked like it might send us over the railing into the Detroit River. We both clutched our wool hats with a free hand at the identical time, while our opposite hand gripped a walking stick and camera respectively.

After that hefty gust subsided, I quipped “I’ve been there – I’ve lost a few hats down at the park where I walk – they go airborne. I watched one cartwheel across the snow and right into the depths of the murky Ecorse Creek and one sailed off my head and hooked onto a branch over the Creek, so both were gone forever!”

Having dealt with the wily wind gust, we each lost momentum in our walks so we chatted for a few more minutes. I learned she was a widow, had just celebrated her 90th birthday and she made a round trip from her senior apartment building down to the River’s edge every morning. Once at Bishop Park, she walked the entire length of the boardwalk three times before heading home. Whenever it was hot or wintry weather, she had a Plan B and simply walked along Van Alstyne Street which runs parallel to the River. It is tree-lined in the Summer and always plowed and salted in the Winter.

That morning we discovered we had a few things in common, including that she and her late husband had also lived in Lincoln Park and enjoyed a daily walk at my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park. We learned we had several mutual acquaintances who were once parishioners at the now-shuttered St. Henry Church, also in Lincoln Park.

As we parted, I told her I admired her stamina and willingness to walk all-year around and hoped to be similarly enjoying a walking regimen when I was ninety and she replied “you will be dear.”

As I walked to the car that morning, I knew I would be writing about our conversation and wished that even if I hadn’t asked to take her photo to enhance the post, I should have at least asked her name.

Fast forward to August 2021

On August 4th, a warm and muggy morning, I made an early stop to enjoy the cool breeze down at the Detroit River and stroll along the Bishop Park boardwalk, camera in tow.

There were the usual items of interest along the way …

Ring-billed Gull at the Bishop Park boardwalk.
Bishop Park with the senior apartments in the background.
I asked this young man to pose with his fish, but the fish
flip-flopped and landed on its head. (Ouch!)
He was happy to pose, then threw the fish back into the water.
Dad likewise got a fish and threw it back.
These fishermen were hoping for bigger fish to fry.
This sleepy gull is molting – molting wears birds out.
A feather was caught in a spider web beneath the gull
(who woke up when I approached it).
A close-up of the feather caught in the web.
If you squint, you can see the intricate web.

I walked along the wooden pier that juts out over the River and chatted with a couple of guys, who, just like me, whined about the heat and humidity and incessant stormy weather.

It’s peaceful on the pier, just like the Boardwalk.
Inquisitive Non-breeding Ring-billed Gull.
Attentive Non-breeding Ring-billed Gull.

While enroute to the boardwalk to return to my car, I checked out the kayak launch, sometimes a gathering spot for waterfowl, but those Mallards were MIA. Then I glanced over and there she was –the nonagenarian walker. I snapped a photo of her as she hurried along, but wait … she was using a rolling walker. Hmm – I was sure it was her though.

Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.

She was moving pretty quickly.

Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.
Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.

I finally caught up with her and asked “do you remember me from last November?” “Why yes I do” she replied. We walked together, chatting amicably as if we were old friends. This time I asked her name. I learned it was Joanne and I told her my name. I remarked on her new “wheels” and she explained she had taken a bad fall, broken her glasses and it was suggested she use a rolling walker going forward, especially for her morning excursions along the Riverfront.

I asked if I could take her picture and told her briefly about my blog. Unfortunately this spry walker is not on social media, or I would have sent along the photos and this post.

Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.

I walked three lengths of the boardwalk with Joanne and then it was time for her to leave, so we parted. I told her I’d been to Bishop Park several times over the Winter and Spring and always looked for her, hoping to rekindle our conversation and she smiled. “See ya around” I called out and once again I told myself that when I reach my 90s, “I wanna be that gal!”

P.S. – I went to Bishop Park last Saturday hoping to see Joanne to wish her a happy birthday but we did not cross paths.

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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51 Responses to I wanna be that gull, er …

  1. What a fun post!! She is spunky!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ally Bean says:

    Joanne is an inspiration. I love her walker thingie. You’re right we all need to be her when we get older. Love the gull photos, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, Joanne sure is an inspiration. I meant to say in the post and forgot, that she is up at the crack of dawn every day to watch the sun come up over the Detroit River from her high-rise apartment in the senior center. Thank you Ally -I like the gulls as they stay put for a very long time, then suddenly I invade their personal space and they fly off.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra J says:

    Yes, Joanne is an inspiration. She looks pretty good for being 90, that is what staying in good health is all about. Walking and fresh air. Wonderful post Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Sandra – Joanne is an inspiration. That is quite a jaunt because the boardwalk is fairly long and she does it the three times back and forth and I put the picture of the senior center in the post so people could see how far it was from the boardwalk. I don’t think she looks 90 either. She was quite lively.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some spider was deeply disappointed to find that feather in its web. Love your gull shots! 💙 If I make it to 90 I hope I will be walking as much as Joanne does! (She reminds me of my late aunt, who lived to be 101. She had a rolling walker just like Joanne’s. She named it Willie. 😊) That’s wonderful that you got a chance to walk together and get to know each other a little more. What an inspiration! I hope you do cross paths again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      You are so right Barbara, after spinning that delicate web, it was a shame to find that feather trapped in the middle. The web was strong as the feather seemed to be securely in place. I hope we are both walking with the energy that Joanne does. That walker named Willie enabled your aunt to get to the ripe old age of 101 and I’ll be she was very independent as well. I hope to see her again down at the riverfront.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Anne says:

    This is an encounter of the delightful and inspiring kind. Thank you for sharing it and so inspiring the rest of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Laurie says:

    You WILL be that gal, Linda. I look to older runners for inspiration. I wrote several times about my friend Heide who completed a marathon shortly after her 80th birthday. We hope to do a half marathon in Iceland together next summer. Keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out.

    You meet the mist interesting people on your walks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Laurie – I hope we both will be making milestones in our golden years like Joanne and your friend Heide. That’s exciting that you two plan to do a half marathon in Iceland next Summer. I hope it happens for you. I was fascinated with Joanne the first go around, so felt lucky to see her again. I’m glad you mentioned your friend Heide, because I was in the car and heard this story on the radio about this 105-year-old runner, a retired school teacher and she took up sprinting at the age of 100 and now I searched for the story in case you missed it:
      https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/105-year-old-runner-julia-hurricane-hawkins-sets-100m-world-record/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie says:

        I have heard of “Hurricane” Hawkins. I even wrote about her in a blog post one time. We will both be out there plugging away when we are older, Linda (I hope!). All the young 64-year-olds will be inspired by us! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Ha ha – well “Hurricane” Hawkins story really blew me away. Taking up sprinting at age 90. A fellow blogger’s mom took up painting in her 90s and had an exhibit last year. We must strive to be like them Laurie, full of energy and life.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. You are looking into a time mirror Linda and seeing yourself. This is what you will be like when you are 90 I’m sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pam Lazos says:

    I wanna be that spry, too at her age, Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ruthsoaper says:

    I think she is right about you. If it’s in your power you will still be walking and feeding the critters. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. She is an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We call those walkers here “rollators” they are good because they have a little basket and if you get tired you can stop and use it as a seat.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your titles, Linda, are very clever! 😁
    Ah, to be 90 and walking around like that! That is just awesome. It’s such good exercise and is good for the mind too! Elderly people have, i think, a grace and charm that is beautiful and magical! To get to that sweet age, we need to exercise and eat properly. I just learned that 2/3s of the American diet consists of heavily processed foods, whereas only 8% of the food eaten in France is processed. America consists largely of sick, overweight people who do not exercise.

    Fresh fruit and veggies rock! 🍒🥦🥕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Tom! I have a unique and fun title coming up this Wednesday. (I think so anyway.)

      Joanne walks really quickly on that rolling walker and there are other people who stroll the boardwalk and she knew all of them and waved “hi” as we walked along. I took a photo of her sitting on a park bench near the boardwalk. You can buy a park bench as a memorial to someone and she was sitting on a bench that had just recently been installed and was dedicated to a couple (both the husband and wife passed away recently and were friends of hers from the Center). I wavered on whether to use the photo and write about that story but decided it might be sad, so I wanted to keep the post upbeat.

      I’ve read through the years that health experts marvel the meals consumed in France are sometimes rich with sauces, or there are the tasty breads slathered with butter, but a diet consisting of fresh produce combats the richer, more indulgent meals. Were we to lose the processed food and salt, we would be a healthier nation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, and America would be a lot healthier if more people exercised or walked like you and Joanne do!
        I have a neighbor next door, who is 90, who i get the mail and a newspaper for (daily). She does not exercise at all and sits all day in a recliner watching tv. How she managed to get to that age is beyond me. Good genetics, one guesses!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        You keep hearing about sitting too much and how bad it is for you. I sit too much and that’s why I started walking ten years ago when I started working from home. Too much sitting and that was before blogging. After work I try to catch up on some social media sites, then over to the blog. All my walking is undone by the sitting. On weekends, I cut down on sitting … mostly. Last weekend it took me forever to catch up in Reader, so I sat for about seven hours each day.

        Like

  13. Joni says:

    That was an inspiring post Linda! I occasionally see a woman here who is over 90, walking the streets near here with her walker, and she also has her IPod on listening to music or Podcasts. So she’s also technologically spry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Joni – So, Joanne and the woman you see in your neighborhood are something for both of us to strive for (and stride for) down the line. I do not have an iPod, but when I ride the exercise bike I listen to a Walkman or an old AM/FM wearable radio. You’re right … she is technologically spry too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Actually, she might possibly be out of date, as it’s those Earbud things that are in now, or music streaming or Alexa! I don’t even know if they make IPods anymore – mine is 6 years old, although I still listen to it when I’m walking (or in the house with the Bluetooth speaker), I’ve noticed it doesn’t hold a charge for very long anymore. Took mom to London for an eye appointment today and there was a bit of snow on the ground there today, but not here, luckily. I’m always in the car when I see the lady with the walker, so I’ve never actually stopped and talked to her, although my neighbour has and said she’s 90.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I know Walkmans are not around anymore, but mine still works fine and I still have some cassette tapes for it. At least you did not have a snowy drive there and back. I’d have stewed and fretted before going and on the road.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Glad to be home….a long day….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I’ll bet it was, not only the drive, the traffic, but worrying about the snow. I think I mentioned driving home on the 401 after my grandmother’s funeral. It was clear as a bell when we left but then started to snow hard. What a trip and took us 2X as long and I had a Pacer which fishtailed as it was so light. I didn’t like driving in snow to begin with, but after that time, I sure didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Eilene Lyon says:

    What an inspiring story, Linda! I think most of us aspire to being so able and active at Joanne’s age. (I’m sure you will be!)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Rebecca says:

    You seem like a real “people” person. Thanks for sharing these fun interactions with the people (and gulls) that you met along the way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Rebecca – since I always walk alone, it seems like it is easier to talk to people, especially when I have the camera in hand. There was a time I was very shy and then I started working at a small diner while in school and that really brought me out of my shell. I like going down to the River as I’m sure to get at least one funny gull picture – this time it was the gull sleeping. And there are always people walking down there.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a inspiration she is Linda! Can you imagine how many miles you will have walked over the years by the time you are 90? Have you kept track over the years? I would love t know how far you have gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I thought so too Diane. I have been keeping track since mid-2012, but I could probably guesstimate on how many miles I walked that first year – it was a three-mile roundtrip to the Creek and bridge and I walked it every day. We had a mild Winter the year I began walking. I will sit one day and figure it out and let you know. I have only six weeks to finish my goal and I think I will make it unless we get slammed with snow and ice.

      Like

  17. It would’ve been great for Joanne to check out your blog and to know that her stamina is admired! She makes ninety look young. I hope you both cross paths again and chat some more.
    I want to be like that too at her age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I wish she was online – I did ask as I would have sent it to her. I told her about my blog and said I mentioned her last year when I first wrote about her. I hope to see her again – she has that same route she takes every day, so we are bound to run into one another again.

      Like

  18. clarejk2014 says:

    Joanne’s an inspiration for us all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Serendipity! Yay – that’s so wonderful you made a friend with someone who inspires you to keep on walking. And, Joanne is right, when you turn 90, “You will still be walking dear!”

    Liked by 1 person

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