“You never regret a walk,” my friend Kath said. I recall more or less the exact spot on the Bridport walking track that she said this, as the gentle gradient continued upwards through thickening forest on a sparkling midwinter’s day and she was reminded of a walk she had once made in Rwanda. I still cherish the feel of the breeze that afternoon: how, as we reached the she-oak forest, its searching tendrils seemed to feel inside our lungs and open us up; how our conversation came with walking and found its own trail; and, how our eyes rarely met but didn’t need to because our hearts spoke in tune with our steps and their breaths. That brisk July day, cheeks like Red Delicious, we walked the world in our conversation. Country walks aren’t like bush walks where often the aim is to “bag a peak” or circumnavigate a lake. Nor are they like a daily walk intended to raise the heart level to a certain beat per minute. Walking in the country is a way of spending time with someone while doing something that’s not too strenuous. Because it’s gentle, different thoughts pass through you as you share the turning of the day: light thoughts that ramble. Not intended to impress they seem more heartfelt because of that. And as you stop to find the way across a fence, meander across a paddock, stop to smell the air, hear a bird, or spot a view that you simply have to share… you realize you never regret a walk and especially with a friend.
Published in Country Style, July 2013