We walked to high school in India as a matter of course. Neighbors set clocks by Perry girls marching to class every weekday and for half day on Saturday. With book bags slung over our backs, we wore blue tunics, white shirts and socks with the mandatory two red stripes identifying students from St. Mary's High School in Laitumkrah. We climbed hill paths that turned into waterfalls during the monsoons and knew every short cut and path through the woods. We would pause at the foot of a hill during a rain storm in the rainiest part of the world, look up at the waterfall that was our usual path, balance umbrellas as we took off shoes and socks and pressed on.
My family returned to Canada for a year when I was finishing high school and I landed in what was then Grade 13 in Beamsville, Ontario living at my grandmother's house again close to three miles from the school.
Unfamiliar with Canadian winters and being our father's daughters we didn't consider how unreasonable this was and packed our bags - heavier now with thick hardcover chemistry and science books and started walking. My sisters and I had waist length braids and heading out in the morning after our showers the damp tips of our hair would freeze into sharp spikes handy to stab each other with.
We learned the new shortcuts, cutting through peach and pear orchards and rows of grapes. One heavily snowing day we discovered the little creek we usually hopped over was now a rushing river of ice. We sat in the snow and as we were used to, took our boots and socks off, rolled up pants and waded through the frigid river.
A teacher saw us walking in - Shirley, Sally and I, and greeted us with, "You Perry girls always have such healthy rosy cheeks!"
Yep. Frostbitten, frozen stumps for feet and numb toes but we looked so darn jolly and healthy.