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A multi-tasking walking routine


photo by Ryan Bergeron
Eleanor Dahlin stands outside of her Karlstad home. Dahlin goes on many walks around town– sometimes twice a day during the summertime– and along the way picks up trash and pulls out weeds, all of which she puts in a plastic grocery bag.

Eleanor Dahlin, 90, of Karlstad heard the doorbell ring and saw a visitor at her door, rushing right away to answer it. After talking with the visitor, this soft-spoken woman pointed out the shelves of glassware and “Precious Moments” bells near her front entryway— items she has collected over the years. She added how she has enough bells.

That’s not the only thing she has been doing over the years. Dahlin talked about an activity that has become a big part of her daily routine: walking outside while picking up trash and pulling out weeds along the way. Dahlin discussed her background, the details behind her walks, the reasons why she does it, and what else she does in her free time.

Dahlin was born in Petersburg, N.D., on October 24, 1931 to parents Einer and Esther Skold, growing up in this community. Her father had moved to America as a “young man” from Sweden.

In 1951, she married her husband Dean Dahlin, who passed away about three years ago at the age of 90. She has three living children and one deceased child, seven grandchildren, and several great grandchildren.

The Dahlin couple moved to Karlstad in approximately 1969, where they built the house she still lives in today— located near the Tri-County School and right across from the local baseball field. She has watched many baseball games from her living room over the years.

Out of that home, she goes for many walks. She doesn’t know exactly how long she has been going on these walks, but knows she has been doing it for awhile.

“I wouldn’t have any idea,” Dahlin said when asked how long she has been going on these walks. “I don’t know. It seems like just forever.”

She likes to walk every day—weather permitting. On these walks, she brings a small grocery bag with her. For many years, she has not left the house for her walks without a grocery bag in hand.

“(I) always come home with it (the bag) full— cans, bottles, weeds sometimes, where weeds grow about this high,” Dahlin said while lifting her hand a few inches above the table.

She calls herself a “great recycler.” She takes what she collects to the local Karlstad recycling bin. She has her son take the glass recyclables to Thief River Falls.

Back in August 2009, the City of Karlstad honored her by naming her the Moose Fest Parade’s Grand Marshal— recognizing her for her efforts in keeping the recycling bins clean and keeping the town clean of litter.

She goes on these walks mostly in the afternoons. During the summertime she will sometimes go on two walks a day. She doesn’t go on as many walks in the wintertime though.

“As I walk, I pick up. I go every direction— north, south, east, west, maybe half a mile or a mile or more,” Dahlin said. “…When I’m out there, I walk.”

Asked if she ever gets tired of these walks or during these walks, she said no, later adding how she’s trying to stay active.

“I figure, make use of my age,” Dahlin said with a small chuckle. “… I’m basically a healthy person.”

For her, these mile or mile plus walks serve a couple purposes.

“See, I walk for exercise, Dahlin said, “and to keep the environment clean— twofold.”

To see the complete story, read the July 28 issue of the North Star News in print or online.

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