At a Walk

In a plane, geography becomes a physical reality; you can see the contours of a topographical map come alive. Travelling by train or taking a car on a freeway, you can track the differences between regions as you move through them. Cycling gives you control of your explorations of a city, allowing you to move from neighbourhood to neighbourhood without reference to the routes set for buses and cars. It’s walking (or scooting or however you locomote), though, that is the method scaled best to our bodies. As Rebecca Solnit says in Wanderlust: A History of Walking, “[w]alking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart.” What I especially love about walking, though, is how much I notice. Even lost in thought, there’s plenty of time for awareness of your immediate surroundings to sink in and allow you to make discoveries that you’d surely miss if you were moving any faster.

I love walking long distances, by city standards. When my partner and I first started dating, he lived near Commercial Drive and I lived in Kitsilano. I’d often walk the seven or so kilometres to his place, or back to mine. So, when I heard that Automattic was inviting WordPress users to blog about a five kilometre walk/run on the same day, I decided that it was high time to visit Burnaby Heights again. I lived there when I was a student, before I moved to Commercial Drive the first time. It’s actually a lot like the Drive.

I started my walk at Victoria Park, at the corner of Kitchener and Victoria to be precise. I made my way over to Charles Street and followed it to the pedestrian overpass near Rupert Park. Then, I made my way north and east until I reached the corner of Willingdon and East Hastings. It’s probably a bit more than five kilometres, actually.

I spent a little time exploring Burnaby Heights, which has been largely redeveloped, both commercially and residentially. Some things remain the same, though. I was happy to discover that one of our favourite student hang outs, Cafe Classico, was still there, serving good lattes and tiramisu – both of which I was in need of before making my way back home, this time sticking close to Hastings on the northern side streets.

My bare bones description doesn’t do justice to the afternoon’s walk, though. Nor do the photos I took. I walked on streets I knew and ones I didn’t, discovering gardens, parks and architecture I’d never seen before. My walking companion was my dog, Roxy, and we had encounters with dogs, birds and people along the way. A walk isn’t simply exercise and it’s not just a method of getting from one place to another. What you see, do and think while walking are as much a part of a walk as any health benefits or practical concerns can be.

Here are a few photos from yesterday:


18 thoughts on “At a Walk

    1. Thanks, Ker-Yng! It’s good to have a nice, long walk and very possible here. It was the perfect day for it, too. Cool, but not cold. I can’t say that I’m a fan of long walks in great heat or cold!

  1. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon! We also enjoy walking and biking especially in a new town or city. Roxy is such a cute companion! Thank you for taking us on your walk with you.

    1. Thanks, Elaine! It’s so much fun to explore a place on foot or by bike. I think those are the best methods for discovery. I’m trying to act a little bit more like a traveller in my own town, too. Roxy really is cute, isn’t she? People kept stopping to talk to us, just to find out what kind of dog she is.

  2. I’m glad you decided to do the WWWP5k, because that’s how I happened in here. I love finding blogs by real people about real places, and Vancouver is a particularly fine real place. I visited there only once, but the memory is evergreen. The Museum of Anthropology and the restaurant that served steamed fiddleheads with the salmon–I was enchanted. Still am. It will be nice to visit virtually once in awhile.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Gerry. It sounds like you might have gone to Raincity Grill – it’s a really great restaurant and very focused on regional cuisine. I’m glad you liked our town so much.

      I’m looking forward to checking out your blog, too.

  3. Sweet photos and words. I know you’re a great walker; I’m impressed that little Roxy can go so far, too! I remember when I could walk much longer urban distances, and am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know Toronto and MontrĂ©al and Winnipeg that way in the 1980s. Walking remains one of my favourite things, even when it’s painful, because it’s so good for my soul. Let’s go strolling and take photos together soon!

    1. Thanks, Tricia. Our usual long walks are five or six kilometres, but as long as she gets a rest, she enjoys ten to twelve kilometre walks, too. On our way home, she was still energetic enough to play with dogs she met along the way. I think she enjoys the explorations, though hers are much more about scents than sights.

      Let’s go for a photo walk soon! Our short one a few weeks ago was so much fun. We may want to leave the dogs behind, though – a few of my shots didn’t turn out because Roxy wanted us to keep moving!

  4. What a lovely meditation on walking. It looks like you had a great spring weather day. Great photos. I especially liked the ones of Roxy and the barber shop window.

  5. Thanks, Betsy – the weather was perfect, not sunny, but pleasantly cool. I didn’t realize the barber had noticed me when I took the picture of him. I’m glad he looks pleased.

    1. Thanks, Allison – you should do this walk sometime, especially if you like looking at architecture and checking out the built environment of various neighbourhoods. It’s fascinating to see how one street can have a very suburban profile, another a very urban feel and a third seem as though it’s out of the nineteenth century – all within a few blocks.

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