Gov. Newsom should be pleased with me. Even with temperatures in the mid-30s I achieved the twin goals of exercising and not breathing in a stranger’s face by doing my usual early morning hike in the Angeles National Forest.
More importantly, Miss Thorpe would be pleased too.
Miss Thorpe was my primary school teacher when I was 10. I was head over heels in love with her, and I have reason to think she reciprocated my ardor. If World War II had not come along and pulled us apart, like so many other wartime romances, Miss Thorpe by now might be Mrs. Green and at 110 years old as alluring as ever.
It was during the flu season one day in the blustery North of England that Miss Thorpe told the class “If you don’t feel well you could wrap yourself in a blanket and huddle over a fire.” (We had coal fires in those days and, my mother normally being at work when I came home from school, my job was to light it so we could both spend the evening huddled over it.) “Or (waving a delicious wrist toward the local hill) you could go out walking on the Coppice and breathe all that clear air.”
I wanted to be worthy of her so I determined that all my life if presented with that option I would always choose the Coppice or whatever the outdoors at that time offered.
So, during last week’s unusual cold, rainy and windy weather, I kept up my hiking routine, coming home drenched or tingling with cold but never doubting the rightness of the decision. After all, in that Great Classroom in the Sky I want to answer truthfully when asked, “During the shelter in place order of 2020, you didn’t huddle over a coal fire, did you, Reggie?”