By Hannah Coates
It’s getting almost impossible to find a car park out the front of my workplace. I think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Recently, I’ve had to park my car and walk the last kilometre to my office. It’s a mere sliver of time, almost lost in the day. Yet these are the ten minutes I look forward to most each morning.
That’s how long it takes to get from my car to the office now. If I bring runners, I can cut my time down, their springiness compensating for my morning-heavy feet. But even if the runners go missing from my car boot, I don’t mind making the walk in whatever shoes I’m wearing. This slows me down, but these are also the times I really start to notice things.
“Funny how this section of footpath has pinky-yellow patterns ribboning across the concrete slabs. Are they natural prints left by a harsh summer sun? Or did someone find a canvas on the concrete? I think that’s the same white-faced heron couple I saw last week, giving me a quizzical look as they prod about in the mud. The dormant deciduous tree I always felt was a winter admonition now has tiny white blossoms starting to unfurl.”
These signals of spring give my feet more of a kick than even running shoes can provide.
Walking to work has its obvious benefits: our vehicles are idling less in congested areas, emitting fewer emissions in the process; our perennially parked cars (the average vehicle is stationary 95% of its life) aren’t taking up valuable public space in our high streets and CBDs, spaces that should be there for those who need them and not just those who feel entitled to them; and our bodies certainly relish the physical movement. Mostly, however, it’s the mental rewards that surprise me. Next time you’re off to work, popping out to the shops or picking up the kids from school, walk some of the way. Right now, more than ever, our backyards, streets and surrounding local environments deserve our exploration and attention. What an opportunity then it is to be surprised, charmed, and calmed by the hitherto familiar. Once we leave the car behind, there’s so much to discover.