The Long Walks – Loving It!
One of the greatest small pleasures of living in an orderly, clean, well-developed and law-abiding society like Canada is the sheer joy of taking long urban walks just on the sidewalks or footpaths. Especially if you hail from an overcrowded — often chaotic — third-world city, like I do.
Don’t be fooled. I’m not talking about long hikes out of town or elaborate camping weekends or bike trips up into the woodlands.
It’s the plain-and-simple, sneakers-on, cap-mounted, deep-breathing and leg-warming long walks for hours till the end.
It’s the meandering walks along the city roads. The aimless wandering around off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods. The intrepid strides of exploring and getting lost in side alleys.
It’s the most simple, chin-up marching, arms swinging, small back-packing and thermos hanging kinda walks that take you anywhere your legs permit.
Why is it such a pleasure? Have I completely lost it finally?
At least in Toronto, a block of commercial area or business district doesn’t even begin or end when, suddenly, a surprising little deep forest, a sprawling manicured park, a lush green valley or a picturesque leafy old housing neighbourhood pops up.
And the real beckoning of such pleasurable walking is, no doubt, the immaculately designed, maintained and well paved sidewalks.
You could step out of your apartment and can actually go all the way up to the edge of the city without encountering a single obstacle that could sour your exhilarating experience.
The only time you’ll actually notice a break in your stride, of course, is when approaching traffic intersections but I’m not including traffic signals here at all. I actually take signals as a nice opportunity to realign your bearings, catch a glimpse of what’s around, recharge your heavy breath or even have a nice sit-in on a ledge or under a bus-stop canopy for a cuppa.
Apart from that, you could just go on and on and not encounter a bump or pothole, as all the side-walks are strictly regulated, designed and maintained for accessibility. This alone deserves a full post.
In fact, so effortless is the walking experience that many people choose to read a book while maintaining a leisurely gait merrily along the sidewalk over long stretches without signals — not afraid of hitting anything really dangerous other than a poor little worm or snail off the grassy patches.
I’m not kidding, really.
Obviously, all of this cannot be done during harsh winters, when you have to be a little more careful, as I’ve even blogged earlier. But let us never allow the inevitable winter obscure the fact that during the rest of the year, the weather is the most beautifully suited for small pleasures like walking.
Let us walk and explore more of our towns, newcomers!
The more of us walk, the more we can make cities friendlier for people and not just for cars! After all, the more of us walk, the better the services and transit will become!
Let’s walk the walks!
More from Loving It series
First Published: November 5th, 2011