Re-Writing Walking Trail Blues

image002A chalk hopscotch outline appeared recently on my favorite walking trail that encircles a lake near my home. I wasn’t tempted to roll my pebble and play a whole game, but I did hop through it once and back again. As I continued walking, other chalk images appeared here and there to amuse me – a family of stick figures, and something resembling a bunny, or perhaps a kitty with long ears, some squiggles. But then up popped a religious verse of dire warnings, obviously written by an adult lacking a child’s whimsy. 

I was reminded of Robert Fulghum’s essay “Sidewalk News” in his book What on Earth Have I Done? He wrote of coming across some strange sayings written in chalk on city streets near his home. One said, “My teeth sometimes leave my body at night.” Unable to resist, he bought his own chalk and wrote answers like, “Who needs faithful teeth?”

Then Mr. Fulghum decided to “raise the level of intellectual discourse,” and added questions to contemplate, like, “Will I ever learn?” and “How do you plead?” First, I’m not sure chalk words on sidewalks qualify as intellectual discourse, and second, since one of his questions was a pun, (“If you love me still, will you love me moving?”) I doubt that he can claim a raise in the level. But he did make the sidewalk funnier.

A third person joined the sidewalk writers with the line, “What the hell is going on?” which seemed amusing in its own way, but before Mr. Fulghum could enlighten the person, heavy rains washed all the words away.

My encounter with my walking trail writers and Mr. Fulghum’s essay got me thinking about what else could be written there. We, too, have had heavy rains of late, but when a dry spell comes again, I am considering bringing my own chalk and a more lighthearted hand to the trail. I might write things like:

  • I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I think I’ll make a few more.


  • Irony. The opposite of wrinkly.

Or for all the runners on the trail I might quote Erma Bombeck:
The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

My goal would be to write something to make people smile every quarter mile. And if I did, I wonder if others might take up the cause, too.

What would YOU write?

P.S. Have you seen the fabulous 3-D sidewalk chalk drawings by today’s best artists? Check out this site:

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