As evening descended on the St. Vrain Greenway, the typical sights and sounds emerged. The splash of the river. The whisper of bicycles moving past.
And of course, the whoops and hollers of Missy as I swerved her wheelchair left and right, complete with the sounds of an X-Wing fighter on an attack run.
The Greenway is the latest addition to our Missy-powered adventures. It started with a restless evening on her part and a realization on mine that I had never really explored one of Longmont’s landmarks. So it was on with the baseball caps and off to the races.
With, naturally, her racing wheels in tow.
I don’t mention them often because we don’t pull them out often. Normally, our disabled ward moves through the world at her own steady pace, with one hand holding on to either Heather, myself, or the nearby landscape for balance. (The other hand, meanwhile, is often exploring the contents of a bookshelf or grocery aisle, so it pays to be alert.) That means of travel is enough for around the house, across a dance floor, or even through a block or two of the downtown, stopping to admire cute dogs along the way.
When it’s a bit more than that – a long night of trick or treating, a walking journey on a pleasant day, a Niwot concert where you pretty much have to park in Gunbarrel – that’s when the wheels emerge.
And when they do, the world changes a bit.
I’ve said before that you learn your neighborhood best when you walk it. You really learn it when one of you is rolling. Every steep incline. Every broken piece of pavement. Every hedge that’s grown out into the sidewalk or car that’s parked right against it. Your mental radar starts pinging constantly with potential obstacles (while quietly, your conscience pledges that this winter, you’ll do a better job shoveling off the walk).
But it’s more than that.
Missy’s temperament often shifts into fourth gear, even when her body normally maxes out at second. It’s one of the things that’s obvious in our bedtime readings, where she will join into the magical battles of Harry Potter with great gusto, vigorously slashing the air with invisible wands or raising her hands in some unspoken spell.
So when we get rolling, Missy gets to run. Not all the time – we’ve spent plenty of time just moving down the Greenway at a normal stride, watching the reaching trees, the falling water, the cute dogs walking past. (Some things never change). But when the mood takes us, we take off, going faster, faster, faster as the world whips by and her smile grows wider.
Ok. Both our smiles.
After all, it’s exciting to engage with the world in a new way. The key may be a book, or a paintbrush, or a chair that allows warp speeds only dreamed of – but when the key turns, the door opens, and a little more color walks in.
And when it does, it never touches just one person. Joy is contagious. Especially when joy keeps waving at everybody to admire a pair of pink tennis shoes and cool laces.
Find that key, whatever it may be. Open the door and explore the contents. The new world waiting inside may lift all of us just a bit higher.
Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be.
In fact, sometimes it can be a walk in the park.