Sunday, August 24, 2014


The sky is grey. The rain falls gently. 

I look at my girls - the baby, the four year old, I look at the sky and soft falling rain. The rain - although barely more than a drizzle, is going nowhere. Then I go and find rain coats. I slip the baby into the pusher, wrap her in blankets, cover the pusher with its clear plastic rain coat, put my own coat on, my four year olds. 

And we're away, the rain coming and going as we complete our errands - here, there, back again and over there, while the four year old gets in and out of the second seat of the pusher, her coat coming off and going back on and the rain continues softly falling and the world is slow, close, immediate; the air brisk. 

And I wonder why I don't do this more. 

The kids and I spend a lot of time hurtling around in our car. In a normal day the minimum that Littlest and I spend driving is an hour for the school runs - four fifteen minute trips. In a day when we're dropping off and/or picking up my Beloved from a far-flung hospital, or driving into Melbourne or all of the above it can be up to six hours. 

This seems to me completely excessive. 

The countryside around us is beautiful. Green hills, content cows, lots of early morning mist. The traffic is light and there is little of the city angst. But it's still a ridiculous amount of time trapped in a deadly metal(ish) box. As a kid, I just didn't go in cars. 

Neither of my parents drove until I was about nine - we lived in the inner suburbs and public transport was our friend. One of my earliest memories is of walking home from something in the city - the museum maybe? my short pudgy legs running to keep up with my dad's long legs. I believe that time I was scooped up and put on his shoulders, to survey the world like a queen from my high perch, but anything under an hour was seen as a good walk. Other memories are of returning through the botanical gardens in evening light, tired but happy, looking forward to watching a cartoon show with a minstrel anmaybe a fox and some fairytales.

If somewhere was too far to walk we trammed or trained it and my dad would scoff at those poor deluded fools (there were some, even then) who would get in the car to hop up to the corner shops or - far more hilarious, the gym. My beloved has, in fact, done this. More than once. I might even have done this. When it was raining.

But, using the excuse of the kids, the distance, I have become far more lazy. It has become a habit to just 'hop in the car' to make an hours gentle stroll a five minute car trip.

My Beloved's one demand for our next house is national broadband (he's still in deep, deep mourning from the election, and spends hours looking up precisely which houses managed to get fibre) mine is that everywhere is within walking distance. Schools, kindy, shops, train station, all within a half hour walk.

It doesn't seem such a big demand, and yet increasingly suburbs are not planned out for pedestrians, corner stores are disappearing, and we are becoming more car dependant, less likely to do the fifteen minute walk at either end of the train or bus. It's just easier. Quicker. A time saver. We walk less so we can go to the gym? Work out? 

Habits are hard to break, (oddly, thirty years of walking wherever I could crumbled in the five years post kids) but to get my kids to enjoy the rain on their face, the sudden surprises of flora and fauna, I think the effort could be worth it. 


  1. So true! It'll be great to move to somewhere where things are walking distance. When we moved to a smallish country town I loved this - shops, the library, parks walkable and my toddler does it on his little peddle-less bike. It's helped him learn about being safe crossing roads etc! What a great post, and I hope in all this rain there's not too much time on the roads for you.

    1. Everything walkable sounds great - small country towns are wonderful! We're having glorious weather at the moment - I'd go so far to say perfect - so enjoying lots of time at the parks and even the driving seems to be going quickly as we spot all the new blossom trees.

  2. one of the main things that keeps us where we are (so very far from all family) is the fact that everything we need is a stone's throw away. we walk everywhere (and sometimes complain about that!) and the kids can walk to school from our house. it is a pretty magical and rare things nowadays. you will find yours. until then, turn up that music and enjoy the "serenity" in another way! x

    1. Being able to walk to and from school makes such a difference - we thought long and hard about schools… and I think we'd still go with the same choice… but not being able to walk is a pain. So glad that you can walk - it is special! And yes - we're turning up the music and singing lots of songs!