One of the wish list items I was looking for when I chose my most recent home was a walkable neighbourhood, and I’m pleased to say I got it. Since moving here I barely use my car. I walk to the corner grocer, I walk to visit friends or to my favourite coffee haunt, I walk to the produce market on Sundays and five days a week I walk to work.
The weekday walk to work quickly became something I love, even in the midst of winter on those chilly Hobart mornings. Walking into town watching the sun rise, drinking in the peace of the dawn is a truly beautiful thing. I don’t even mind so much when it’s raining (unless it’s a proper downpour, in which case I might wimp out and take the bus): with a rain cover on my back pack and a waterproof coat I quite happily trundle along. The only really unpleasant weather is when there’s a freezing wind blasting down from the Mountain and I haven’t got a decent coat.
It’s a 35 minute walk to the office, if I don’t get distracted or decide to explore a different way. Just enough time to give me all those health benefits the “find thirty” people are banging on about, twice a day each work day. I’m getting regular gentle exercise (particularly important at the moment, with a nasty knee injury keeping me from bush walking and other more intensive activities) as part of my daily routine, but the walk also gives me time to calm my always-busy mind and take a look at the world around me.
There’s always something to see, even walking the same route most days. In Autumn there was the long, golden light and the falling of the leaves, and the discovery of local fig and apple trees ripe for the foraging. In winter I enjoyed the sparkling frosts and mountain snow and watching the city wake and shake itself from slumber. Now it’s spring I’m seeing this little city bloom and the smiles return to people’s sun-warmed faces. There’s always another little detail to notice and I try to remember to take my little pocket camera with me to capture some of the beauty I see.
Not only do I have time this way to stop and smell the roses (and I do love burying my face right into the petals while I deeply inhale), I have time to put my thoughts in order, to properly wake up before work in the mornings and to relax each evening before I get home. It’s wonderfully good for my mental health, this walking business. I also get time to notice what’s going on in my little city: to see the new businesses opening and, all too often, the shops that have closed (last week the butcher specialising in local free-range meat who always waved as I passed, now another mainland chain butchery – please support your sustainable local businesses!).
I walk to work. I smile at the people I pass on the way and mostly they smile back. I keep pace with the changes around me and I notice the weather and the seasons more. I appreciate the days when the sun shines and the breeze is gentle, and I feel good about myself for still walking when the weather’s less kind. I care for my body, mind and spirit while saving money and stepping a little more lightly on the planet at the same time. That’s the very essence of sustainability!
How do you make your way to work each day? Can you find a lower-impact route that fits with your daily routine?
Before I moved here I took the bus to work and used the time to listen to podcasts, alighting a stop or two early to get a bit of a walk in. For previous jobs I’ve taken trains, caught ferries and cycled, and yes, even done the dreadful thing and driven where a viable alternative could not be found, though I car-pooled when I could: every bit helps!
If it’s too far to walk or public transport’s just not your thing, can you dust off your bike and cycle on in? It’s Ride2Work day tomorrow, the perfect time to give cycling a try!
Mostly though, I have to recommend it: walk where you can. You might just enjoy it.