One of the best bits of taking a friend on a walk is that you get to see the world through their eyes.
My friend Shana really likes birds. She and her husband have a big picture window in their living room and outside the window, they have put loads of bird feeders so they can sit inside and just watch the birds that visit.
They have these apps on their phones for discovering new birds. They know how to identify a bird by its song or by its features. They’ve even turned my family on to this super fun strategy game called Wingspan that stars all different kinds of birds.
So when Shana joined me on the Camino, she was ready to see some European birds. All day long she would point out and name different birds, some that were already familiar and some that are like close cousins to North American birds.
I enjoy seeing (and hearing) birds, but I don’t often know the names of them or how unusual they are, so it was fun to have Shana along as a bird guide. The same is true for my friend Diane with the names of flowers and plants, for my friend Kirstie when it comes to food, or for my friend Ted when choosing a wine. Other folks’ interests and expertise expands my own experience.
One day on the Camino, we were walking along a graveyard when Shana spotted a large stork.
I had read that there were white storks on the Camino, but I had never seen one before. Apparently, they can often be seen nesting in church towers.
Maybe it was because we were on the Camino at a quiet time of year (in March), but it’s more likely that I got to see the stork because Shana was there to point it out to me. It was much bigger than I imagined, perched statue-like for long enough for us to get a good look.
I was excited to get to see the stork. But I think it actually brought me more joy to see Shana see the stork. Her delight was a good reminder to me that when I walk with others, I get to see the world anew.
Mini Walking Stories is a project I’m doing this month to catalog a fabulous year of walking. During December, I’m inviting you to come along with me for a few minutes on one of the walks I took in 2022. Read more stories here.