Since self-isolation as a way of life started, walking has become part of my daily routine, energising my physical body and creative mind.
When is the best time for walking? Any time really! In the early morning, the air is crisp and the grass is wet if there’s dew. In the evening, a walk helps to burn off the calories you’ve consumed during the day. Under the sun, you get some vitamin D into your body.
One day early in the year, I had a class in one place and a function in another place, the total walking distance from and back home was 6.8 kilometres. The weather forecast was a high of 32 degrees with a 90% chance of rain. I put more than 1 litre of drinks, an umbrella, a rain coat, spare socks and shoes in case the ones I was wearing got wet, a towel for drying and a plastic bag for any wet items in my backpack. I walked in the shade where possible, at a moderate speed, avoiding heating up too much by not rushing. I was exhilarated by the end of the day, noticed so many things that I wouldn’t have seen if I had been driving a car. I felt my body had gained a fitness benefit while my mind had been sharpened a little too.
Where is the best place to walk? During this pandemic, we have to try to avoid being too close to others so main roads may not be the ideal roads to walk on. Side streets and residential areas are much safer. There are not many vehicles on those roads and it’s easier to cross the road when someone walks towards you. Most people appreciate it when you cross the road before they do; lots of them would give you a wave or a friendly smile to thank you. Older people are much more aware of what is going on. Some youngsters are living in the clouds – that’s the time you wish police were around to charge them. All kinds make up the world; we just have to be careful to protect ourselves. Don’t let those people near you; they can spread the virus amongst themselves.
Open your eyes with your mind when walking as exercise. Take in what nature has to offer us, as well as man-made varieties.
Walking along residential streets is pretty flexible. The pace can be slow or fast. We stop when we see beautiful flowers, unusual plants, the occasional nicely developed garden or an attractive fence or gate.
The bark of this tree is fascinating. The peeling strips change to a lighter colour where it lifts from the trunk. I have no idea what type the tree is, but does that matter? No!
Houses are the most interesting things to look at while walking. We can almost guess what type of people live in them. A tastefully renovated older style house – not surprised if it is owned by a couple, both with successful careers. A double story, new house on a small piece of land, with the garage as the main feature, is probably owned by newcomers or those with new money. A rundown old house might have watchful eyes in front of a wishful mind. A house with an uncared for garden might be a rental property. Chairs on the front veranda – the owner would love to chat with anyone who is willing to stop.
Most people are friendly and try to do the right thing but watch out for joggers, some of them don’t give a damn. They pass by you closely, huffing and puffing, when there’s plenty of room, like they are above the law and have no respect for others – what can you do about it?
Let’s talk about nice things instead. Walking down laneways is much easier under social distancing rules as they have little foot traffic. Laneways are not often walked by people; in a different time we might never have entertained the idea. Nevertheless, some of the laneways are nicely looked after, very nice to walk and many are laid with bluestones, beautiful and solid.
Some of the laneways form a rear driveway for many houses; those garages are at the back of the house. Laneways are always pretty much like the people living in the vicinity – some with self-respect, some without; some have taste, some have not.
A few laneways are planted with colourful flowers and small shrubs, one we saw even with vegetables and herbs. Those laneways gave me such good vibes on a recent walk.
Some lovely people leave jokes in waterproof folders hanging on the fence, sharing laughs with their neighbours. Some follow social media, leaving teddy bears in the window facing the street to entertain children who walk past.
My favourite was an “installation” offering free toilet paper and even money for those in need.
See the masked teddy bears, phones, reading materials – all you need to survive the pandemic.
If you look, you will find so many interesting things around the neighbourhood. The more you pay attention, the more you will be rewarded. Soon you will be looking forward to a walk every day.