After weeks of trial and error, I’ve designed a satisfactory three mile walk around the new neighborhood. I made the best use of available sidewalks, while minimizing my exposure to the heavily trafficked main roads, threw in some loops and backtracking and, voila. I had to be creative because the neighborhood wasn’t built on a grid. It was built in pods of circles and courts that lead nowhere.

It generally takes me an hour to complete the route. Although I can walk it in 50 minutes like I did today, I usually stop to pick wild flowers and gawk at the birds. I also take the time to smile, wave or say hello to the people whose paths I cross. Sometimes they acknowledge me, but more often than not, they don’t. This morning, for instance, I came home with three smiles and a wave out of a possible dozen. On a good day, I’ll get five smiles in an hour.


I can add an extra 16 minutes to my walk if I make a trip to the Piggly Wiggly. I know, I know – only in the South would anyone name a grocery store the Piggly Wiggly. That’s as crazy as calling one the Cowie Wowie or (god forbid) the Kitty Titty. Actually no one is really sure how Clarence Saunders came up with the name. He’s the guy responsible for creating the first self serve grocery store, the Piggly Wiggly, in 1916.

Surprisingly, I buy quite lot of things at the Piggly Wiggly. Bird seed, for example. Also, toilet paper, beer, wine, pickles, frozen vegetables, olive oil and so on. They don’t, however, sell tofu or rice milk, chutney, bulk herbs, beans, & nuts, miso, organic or local produce. In other words, they don’t cater to the granola crowd.

I can usually pick up a few extra smiles at the Piggly Wiggly, too. The check-out clerks are starting to get used to me and they smile when I come in. They know I walk or ride my bike to their store and that I bring my own grocery bag.

On one of my first trips to the Piggly Wiggly, I told the clerk I needed everything in the one bag because I could carry it home better that way. “Don’t you have a car?” she asked. “I have a car, but I don’t like it – I’d rather walk.” I answered. “Where are you from – California?” She asked. And that got a big smile out of me.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.