I love walking.
I’m walking quite a bit at the moment, getting fit again for the Portuguese Camino tour which is coming up in May.
Jennifer and I are taking 16 New Zealand carers from Porto through to Santiago. Carers are people who care for someone – perhaps someone elderly, or with health issues.
I’m sure these carers are quite extraordinary individuals, and I’m looking forward to spending time with them, and hearing their stories.
But the walking I’m doing at the moment is less about training, and more that I just simply love walking. Most days now I’m walking 12kms -15kms, with 20kms or so on the weekend. I’m averaging between 85kms-100kms a week.
I love the simplicity of it.
I love the easy grace of a stride.
I love the regularity of my breath.
I love getting out into the bush, or amongst the wineries and the vineyards – and seeing flocks of cockatoos or kangaroos and sometimes a snake slithering away.
I love the smell of wildflowers.
I love the chill of an early morning.
I love hearing the sound of my boots on the track.
The only sound, other than sometimes wind in the trees.
There is a road I take which leads to the vineyards. People wave at me as they drive past. I wave back. Often I don’t know who they are. Or I can’t see them properly because of the sun reflecting off their windows. It doesn’t matter. I still wave.
I wave when an oncoming driver gives me space. Sometimes their cars veer onto the other side of the road. I always wave to them, for their courtesy.
Sometimes I see friends driving past, and every now and then they stop, and we have a chat. There have been times, on a long walk when I’m a fair way out of town, when a concerned driver will stop and ask if I want a lift. I laugh, and say No Thanks.
I walk the same route every day. And often at the same time each day. And so people get to know me. On Sunday I take a longer route which loops around the town.
I walk the same route because I’m competitive. With myself. I like to know how I’m going from day to day – comparing my times, my pace and heartbeat, with previous days. I wear a Fitbit so I track everything. And then later on my computer I look at the stats.
But walking isn’t about stats.
It’s about feeling.
And seeing and hearing.
It’s about connecting to the elemental side of life.
I like to see how the light changes, how the vegetation changes. Today I noticed that some of the vine leaves are starting to turn golden. The first sign of autumn coming.
I like walking the same route because strangely, I see something new each day. Even though I’ve walked this route for years. But every time I seem to see something different.
And I listen to audiobooks. Because each walk is about two and a half hours, I use this time to “read.” It’s a valuable time for me. It enriches me in so many ways.
Walking grounds me.
It grounds me so I can fly.
I love it.