Quite a few years ago I started going on a morning walk. It was before my eldest daughter’s wedding, and I’d noticed I was a bit (nay, a lot) boombah. There really wasn’t very much time to do anything about it, seeing as the wedding was only a couple of weeks away – but I decided I would force myself to walk for half an hour each day in the interests of health, happiness and the Australian way.
There’s nothing interesting or unusual about someone going on a daily walk, but it’s had its moments. Some of which are worthy of mention. After all, if you’ve read this far, surely you can humour me and manage another 600 words or so. (Thanks in anticipation, for that.)
At one stage, because I really did hate the thought of having to do that damn walk each day – I got it into my head to do it really early and get it out of the way. I’m a very light sleeper, so really early meant 4.30-ish. I’d wake up around that time and lie there thinking about how horrible it was that I was going to have to do that walk and how I wasn’t looking forward to it … but if I got up and did it NOW, I’d have the rest of the day to read the papers and sit in the sun eating chocolate, cake and potato crisps mung bean sarnies and soy crackers.
So verily it came to pass that one morning I hauled myself from my deliciously warm and marvellous bed and out into the darkling night. It was actually fantastic out there, as it happened to be a beautiful moonlit night – cool and still and enchanting. The start of my walk entails a diagonal stumble across a sports oval. It’s quite elevated, and I noticed with delight that even though all around me was pitch black, off to the left I could see the lights of the whole town glittering in the distance far below like a magical little firmament purely for my edification. It was quite fabulous altogether, so I stood there and had a good long look at that, and thought about how I was the only person awake in the whole wide world. Woo.
After a little while experiencing this unlikely epiphany, I trotted off again, and nearly shat myself in horror when all of a sudden something loomed ahead in the darkness and I found I wasn’t the only one awake in the whole wide world after all. Some druid in a cowl and blanket had laid out his gran’s spare chenille bedspread on the grass in the middle of the oval and was assuming a yoga position and doing druidy things under the cloak of darkness. I think a noise of surprise and/or horror might have emanated from me – but not a word from the druid, who was obviously on a much higher plane and swathed in a mist of sandalwood and myrrh from the incense sticks he’d poked in the grass around him. I did a sort of crablike movement in order to avoid trampling his patchouli cones, and trundled up to the highway with my poor old heart hammering away with the sheer shock of it all. I’ll never know what the druid thought. And neither, probably, will he.
Once I got to the highway, there were streetlights. Those really big overhead bright ones, which could have lit up an Olympic stadium. There were also trucks trundling past in fairly regular succession, and I was thinking how nice it would have been if the Mickey D’s on the corner was a 24 hour one and I’d thought to bring some money and could have lobbed in there for a warming thick chocolate drink with double cream skim latte and sat watching the trucks going past and the sun coming up, etc., etc., etc. And while I was contemplating this, I put my hand in my pocket to check whether maybe I did have coinage – and realised with horror that I was standing on a main highway in my nightie, dressing gown and a pair of crappy slippers.
At this particular point in the walk, I’m either halfway there or halfway back – so there wasn’t anything much to do except go forward into the fray. I didn’t particularly want to encounter the druid again, because if he’d come out of his trance long enough to realise the madwoman in the bed gear was returning to accost him from yet another angle in a surprise attack, there might have been a nasty encounter of the zen kind. So there was nothing for it really than to shuffle on home.
And so, eventually, to bed …