By Karla Sclater
Anyone who’s seen comedian Nancy Guppy on television or stage, knows that she radiates energy and wit. On a recent sunny Monday, I got the chance to join Nancy on her morning walk in her Queen Anne neighborhood. This funny woman is quick on her feet and in shape. For about an hour and a half, I delighted in talking with her and trying to keep her quick pace.
Nancy’s connection to walking has evolved over the years. As a former runner who had to stop due to a back injury, she worried that walking could never replace the endorphin charge that running gave her. And yet, walking has become a fulfilling way to help her stay in shape, as well as experience the city.
“Walking forces me to slow down,” she said, “It’s a great way to connect to the community.”
Nancy walks every day, taking the same route, savoring the familiarity of the course. She doesn’t wear earbuds and isn’t fixated on pedestrian accouterments. This is intentional, because she wants to keep herself open to the sights, sounds and smells around her. For the record, she stops to smell the roses.
Also, she talks out loud to herself. Sometimes this causes innocent bystanders to wonder if everything is all right with the woman walking and talking to no one in particular. Talking out loud is her way to process whatever is on her mind. This might be programming her show, “Art Zone with Nancy Guppy”; or whether certain neighborhood home renovations do or do not maintain the integrity of a house; or taking the time to absorb some sensory treasure along the way.
“So this is where the genius happens?” I asked.
Nancy guffawed, “Or all the wacky ideas.”
“It’s such a human thing to do,” Nancy comments. “I like seeing the people and dogs and cats in my neighborhood. I recognize dogs I see all the time…and the people are great too,” she laughs. “I like the people.”
“Look at that,” Nancy points to a garage with chipped, red paint. Time has turned the garage into pleasing colors and textures. The green-brown moss that pebbles the driveway is the perfect accent, and Nancy notes it: “I love this. It’s beautiful.” Walking really is the best way to see the textures of a place.
Her deep roots in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood are evident as we wend through the tree-lined sidewalks. Nancy points to a lovely green house that she and her husband renovated and lived in for years. She looks contemplative, gazing at someone across the street. In the next second, she exclaims, “I recognize her!” Nancy remembers her from when she was a little girl.
Besides the benefits of walking, the themes that emerged from my Monday morning trek with Nancy is that she has an eye for architecture and absolutely loves snail mail. Nancy sends people cards and hand-written letters. If she spots a house that piques her interest, she’ll send a note asking if she might tour it. This simple, straight-forward contact has gotten her in many doors.
By the way, Nancy carried my backpack (see photos for proof), brushing off my protests by declaring that I’m carrying too much. Nancy’s thoughtful like this. After our walk, she sent an email thanking me for the walk, adding that she recently had a flat tire and when she went to Les Schwab, they fixed it for free in 20 minutes. She “was so
delighted and happy about the great service” that she wrote them a note to tell them so. Her email to me ended with, “Snail mail rocks!”
So do you, Nancy. Thank you for sharing your walk and so much more.
You can catch Nancy’s show, “Art Zone,” on the Seattle Channel, Fridays at 8 pm, and view episodes online: http://web8.seattle.gov/ArtZone/episodes.
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