It’s fair to say that in general I tend to like winter about as much as completing tax returns or paying the council rates. Yup that much..
However this week I was inspired by one of nature’s most powerful symbols. Prompted to get outside and explore. And by explore I don’t mean going to an airport clutching a passport I mean discovering my very own neighbourhood. The genesis of this idea came from something as simple as the sun.
The winter sun. A welcomed friend.
When I say “sun” I should perhaps more specifically say – the winter sun.
It seems so much more welcoming in winter. In summer we shy away from her harsh shards and lather ourselves in a white protective coat of chemicals to avoid her. In winter however she is a life-affirming companion whose warming rays envelop us in welcomed embrace. And it was whilst I was in my local park watching over my kids during school holidays that I got to thinking… how can I possibly hate this?
I was bathed in blissful sunlight and whilst the temperature was only around 14 degrees celsius it felt much warmer. I had my sunglasses on and whilst they aren’t technically ‘rose-coloured’ metaphorically they may as well have been! I thought to myself…
Well if winter isn’t going to change I guess my attitude towards it should!
One of my favourite quotes.
I stumbled across this quote many, many years ago. In fact it was even on my email signature for a time. However I have seldom acted upon it’s true meaning. The quote is…
So in other words I have talked the talk but not walked the walk- quite literally. So on that brisk yet sunny winter’s day I decided to heard up the cats (my children) and do something about it.
We were going for a walk.
But in my eyes I thought of it more as a Proust voyage of discovery. The destination? Carlton and Brunswick. Exotic huh!? Before we embarked I popped back home to pick up my camera and hunt up some inspiration from the excellent Walking Maps website. After a quick surf by postcode I had found our destination.
The old Carlton rail trail.
I know much of this route already by being local to the area. It also meanders along part of a long disused inner-suburban rail line so as a rail-tragic and history buff it hadn’t escaped my attentions. However I would have never considered wandering along it in winter. That is of course until this epiphany of sorts.
To be honest my penchant for, and openness to, a July ramble was also directly linked with my waistline. I’ve become acutely aware lately that the waistbands on my jeans have become mysteriously snug of late. The health benefits of a walk are many and well documented. So it was win-win. Exploration and fitness combined. Here’s a little of what we saw…
Something I took particular note of before we began is that this 4 kilometre route has only one chance en route to grab a coffee. Whilst this might not be un-Australian per se it must surely be un-Melburnian. So we began our ambling at the intersection of Lygon and Park Streets where there are a multitude of caffeine options. I got a take-away and we were off…
Taking in your local neighbourhood on foot really demonstrates that there is a vast difference between seeing and truly looking. Or more to the point; noticing. Opposite this cafe is an amazing work of street art by one of my favourite Melbourne urban artists called Adnate. I’d never noticed it there before. Criminal!
Turns out too that it wasn’t just me who was regaling beneath the winter sun in deference to the shimmering god of vitamin D. Locals were reading and resting as we strolled past unnoticed. A canvas of peace and relaxation a mere four kilometres from the CBD of Australia’s second largest city. Blissful!
A slight detour.
As an avid traveller I am oft to change plans on-the-fly and this was the case on our walk. We took a slight detour south to Princes Park. I knew that there were many golden leaves tenaciously still clinging to life on the trees verging the walking track there. And our detour certainly paid off.
A playground for the kids and a wonderland of post autumnal foliage with sunlight strobing through it for dad.
Rejoining the trail we enjoyed the impressive city vistas afforded the walker from south Royal Park (#18 on the circuit map) and history-geek dad studied the memorial cairn to Burke & Wills. It was from this very spot in 1860 that their ill-fated expedition embarked.
The light by now was beginning to turn golden and the temperature fall away.
It was time to head home. My wife headed down to pick us up after our afternoon antics. As my children scrambled into the car I was left with a small bracket of time to get a last photo for the day.
It was cathartic to bid adieu to the setting sun. After all the nascent idea for this walk had been inspired by her many hours before. The circle now seemed complete.
It had been a wonderful day of simple pleasures.