Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Tactile Beauty of Car-Free Travel

Running my hands through the
grasses in Olympic Village
While away visiting family in Ontario and Quebec, the Velo Family spent a lot of our travels in cars. Not by choice, but out of necessity, with our destinations being so far off the beaten track. On our trip back from my in-laws trailer, while driving along country roads, we passed some wheat fields. Out of sheer instinct, I went to reach my hand out and run it through the golden stalks when my hand hit the glass of the window. Aside from being mildly embarrassed by my forgetfulness as to my mode of transport, it dawned on me that I get so much pleasure from the tactile nature of walking and riding a bike. I also realized that so many people who spend most of their time behind the wheel of a car miss out on this sensational experience.

I've mentioned many time before about how intimate the experience or walking or riding a bike is. You are completely free to see, hear and smell the world around you without any obstructions or filters. The sense of touch is no different. Every ride I take I am drawn to reach my hands up to touch the low hanging leaves of the trees I pass, or stick out my leg to run it through the tall grasses. I can't help but feel one with my surroundings, and I find it surprisingly calming to have the ability to interact with nature in such a tactile way.

Walking is no different, although you are slightly less likely to miss the prickly chestnut burr growing on the tree when you aren't spinning past on a bike (yes, I did do this just last weekend). Last Monday, the Velo Family, along with my visiting sister and boyfriend, successfully completed the Grouse Grind. While the trek was gruelling, nature's stair-master provided many trees and rocks I could touch as I made my way up. I feel a bit silly saying this, but being able to touch the trunk of a tree as I hike through the forest is almost my way to say thank you for allowing me to experience the beauty of it all. I know my husband has caught me on many occasions just absentmindedly grazing a tree, a smooth rock, or any other parts of the natural world when we've been out, and has been known to comment on it with a chuckle from time to time.

My ability to both transport myself on foot or by bike while intimately experiencing the world around me is a privilege I will no longer take for granted. The sheer beauty and joy of feeling the wind in your hair, touching the rustling leaves and grass, and being exposed to all the elements is too often minimized as our society rushes through life. But now, having spent many hours inside cars and buses during our travels, I know what I'm missing out on and will relish each tactile experience with Mother Nature I get!

1 comment:

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