"I hear you’re the resident hiker on Blue Mountain.”
My new neighbor, Julie, was trying to be friendly. She’d come all the way over just to introduce herself. But it was hard to work up a smile in response. “I used to hike quite a bit,” I said. As if to illustrate the point I hobbled down my steps in my knee brace and invited her to sit at the picnic table. The early spring air was still chilly. My border collie, Tuck, lay down at my feet.
“You look pretty fit,” Julie said. “What happened?”
Doctors said I had an autoimmune disease, but they couldn’t agree on what had caused it. For six months I’d searched for an answer. Three specialists later, I didn’t know what course of treatment to follow.
Just getting out of bed in the morning was a chore. Exercise was out of the question with my stiff knees, bad ankles and sore back. My son, Scott, was a personal trainer, but he lived 500 miles away. He tried his best to encourage me over the phone.
“Hiking’s been a big part of my life for three decades,” I told Julie. “It’s been darn hard to give it up.”
“Maybe we could go out together,” she said. “I have an ATV with four seats. Plenty of room for the two of us and our dogs.”
I glanced down at Tuck. He missed hiking too, and I knew he’d love a dog buddy to run with.