I am walking again. I am remembering the benefits of walking and my mornings have changed. I think of the pleasure of my feet greeting the street. My body recalls how to walk tall and breathe. My 5000-step, 40-minute stroll is just that. A time to gather thoughts and start the day on the right foot. My body and mind thank me.

Safety is high on my Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Early in the morning is a good time to avoid crowds. The walk east through downtown and up North Fourth Ave elicits thoughts of the city yesterday year. The walk north on Granada with a short gaunt west invites a parallel stroll with nature and the river. The routes, for the most part, are one way, or a loop. Except for one.

My favorite route heads south. First, walking past the Federal Court House. The sidewalk passes under the freeway and over the riverbed. The furthest point west is the delightful Mercado San Augustin. The Mercado shops surround a patio that welcomes cyclists and medical staff from the clinic across the street. One of the shops is La Estrella bakery. The empanadas are baked fresh daily. An empanada is a pastry of dough turned over different fruit fillings. On my way around one corner and two blocks brings me back to the river and the river walk. A ramp leads down to the walk and then 70 small steps up a staircase back to the street begins the trek home. The modern electric trolley passes every 15 minutes. The sight of the Federal Court House signals the walk is almost complete.

The Court House’s employee parking lot is in the back of the building. Cars are inspected by security guards when they enter. This is also the entrance for the bus that transports people from the jail to their scheduled hearings. After passing the gate, the bus drives inside a separate and secure enclosure for the prisoners to transfer into the building. Interesting what one can learn on morning walks.

The prison system is becoming a lucrative industry. Privatization of the service removes it as a part of our government. Regulations become subject to the whims of business. Certain things scream evil especially when one profits from another’s misfortune. Prisons are big business that begs the question “to whom does it benefit?”

Walks offer time to think about such things. The recent Justice Department decision aimed to dissuade asylum seekers screams evil. One morning the usual scenery changed. An empty lot behind the Federal Building now held a temporary chain-linked enclosure. Within the enclosure were piles of material hidden beneath blue tarps. A hint of what was being protected remained stacked on the back of a parked flatbed truck. Sections of framed chain link fencing waited to be unloaded. Next to the storage space was a truck identified with signage as a detention equipment company. A new truck bearing the logo of a detention equipment company announced that the private prison system is a great way to make money. The rest of the walk was disturbed with images of who may be detained by the detention equipment. A detention equipment company gets its start to supply a demand.

“One ought to be afraid of nothing other than things possessed of power to do us harm,
but things innocuous need not be feared.”
– Inferno, Dante Alighieri