I wrote this on the Sunday I heard about all Melburnians having to wear a mask when they left the house. I live in central Melbourne. I thought about how my life under COVID-19 had changed.
I came up with one huge positive. I wrote about it…….
In one way Covid-19 has played into my hands. I have re-learned the love of walking. Once this love took me into the wilds where I slogged for hours through bush to finally lunch by a freezing river or even spend the night in a communal hut with others who also wanted to ‘get away from it all’.
It is a long time since I indulged in the sort of walking New Zealanders call tramping. We would grab a government map of an area and set off to explore the New Zealand bush. Explore was the word we used and it’s an important sounding word. While we explored we often planned to spend the night in a distant hut.
The exertion of getting to this almost in-accessible hut lead to exhaustion and possibly a sound if uncomfortable sleep for those who wanted to re-energize for the next day’s trip down the mountain and back home.
But often the night was shared with numerous others who were also exploring. Their chatter, which would be described later around a water cooler as ‘having a bit of a yak with a few of the blokes that pitched up’, their snores, farts, and the banging around as people stumble out to relieve themselves, put us very much into the middle of humanity. Of course there were people who loved these long nights of yakking around a wood burning stove, with smell of wet socks drying, smelly feet and the numerous and unlikely yarns. It was part of the joy of tramping.
I was reminded of those days when I watched the movie The Way where the pilgrims pitched up in hostelries with rooms full of bunks. The Camino’s not for me I thought and immediately booked with a friend to walk in the Luberon area of France. Besides the charm of Provence and the pleasure of actually walking the allure was the transport of our luggage and three to four star accommodation at the end of each day.
Since France I have done very little walking for pleasure. COVID-19 has changed that. My active job is no more and I am, like everyone else, confined to the house. This has re-acquainted me with a friend who also sees walking as the main component in her fitness regime. We walk for several hours around flat suburban streets. We drive to our meeting place and strike out.
This week we walked around Elwood and into Brighton and then back along the foreshore admiring those beautiful houses that have entrances onto the beach. We peered into gardens and discussed the plants and the lay-out and we talked. We talk about anything that comes into our head. You could say we yak. This week we walked rather far into Brighton because the way back became a slog and we panted as we yakked. Proving we have some way to go with our fitness.
We had parked our cars in the lovely strip along the middle of Broadway in Elwood where there are no parking restrictions. The Turtle cafe is at the end of Broadway and we arrived there gasping and leaned against a pole and ordered coffee. As it is no longer possible to drink in a cafe we collapsed on my car and sipped.
Perhaps it would have been healthier walking through dense bush, stumbling over exposed tree roots while we coped with the undulating terrain. There would be no traffic and no car fumes and more bird song. But in the time of COVID-19 these suburban walks are a joy and I look forward to the next one.