Out here in Phoenix on my study break, I exercise early. Most mornings I am out the door by 5am, heading out for a 22-mile bike ride along the Indian Bend walking and bike path. The path runs nearly 20 miles from the north side of Scottsdale down to Arizona State University in Tempe.
About 40 minutes into my into my ride, I see a young woman on the path attired in a pink-striped dress and white tennis shoes. Trailing behind her about 75 yards and walking a little brown dog, is a 50-something woman who appears to be her mother.
As the young woman saunters along, she clasps her hands, resting them just below her chin. I stop for water as the trail winds through Eldorado Park. The young woman was in the park this morning by the time I had reached it. She has a very specific routine of touching certain trees and picnic tables. She does it the same every day, before turning and going the other direction on the path.
This morning I met the woman following the girl. I said, “Good morning. I see you out here every morning. Is that your daughter ahead of you?”
“Well, yes it,” she said. A nice 3-minute conversation ensued. I introduced myself. “I’m Don from Illinois. I’m just out here this summer with my wife.” I discovered that I was speaking with Michelle, the young woman’s mother. “My daughter is Cynthia. She’s 23. You can probably tell she is autistic. But she loves this walk every morning. We never miss it.”
“I think Cynthia is the patron saint of the Indian Bend walkway,” I said.
“That’s for sure,” her mom said, smiling. “She never speaks to anyone while we are out here, but she loves seeing the walkers, the runners and the bike riders. As soon as we get back home, I hear all about it.”
We bid each other “a good day” and continued on.
“See you tomorrow,” she said.
“I’ll look forward to it.”