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: