Summertime is easy. As long as I can get home from work and down to the beach an hour or so before sunset, I am good to go. My favourite place to walk is along Altona beach, the bay stretching out to one side, fancy houses lining the Esplanade on the other. When the wind is from the north the bay can be like a millpond, and the mornings and evenings can be really peaceful. When the wind is coming in from the south across the water, the waves get choppier and the bay turns a darker shade of blue. Either way, it’s my routine.
Now autumn is well and truly upon us and it gets dark before 6.30pm, much too early to get a walk in before dark unless it’s the weekend. I am determined to break my other fine tradition of letting go in the winter months, slowing down, not getting so much exercise in. A friend at work challenged me to get up extra early a couple of times a week and get my walk in before work: it’s easier to find daylight at 6.30am than it is at 6.30pm. I baulked. I gave up early morning exercise years ago. I am a morning person but I prefer a gentler start to the day. Not for me those 5.30am runners or swimmers. I’ll stay at home and have another cuppa.
Anyway, she stood there and would not let go until I promised to give it a try for one week. So here I was at 6am this morning, sitting bewildered on the side of the bed, fumbling with the radio to switch it off before I woke Orlando. I found my way to the kitchen and switched on the laptop. Like all Melburnians, I never leave the house without checking the Bureau of Meteorology’s rain radar site. The screen lit up with an angry band of yellow and red (read: heavy and torrential rain) heading briskly up the coast from the south-west. It was less than half an hour away. And here I was standing like a lemon in my tracksuit pants and trainers in the pre-dawn darkness.
Bugger it. I grabbed my keys and walked out the door, past the car and down the street. If I had already suffered the pain of an extra-early wake-up call, I might as well do what I can. I walked as fast as I could westwards towards the black clouds, no music, just me and the suburban silence. Not one house had a light on, but I passed the odd tired-looking commuter at a couple of bus stops, hunched over in the shelter.
I didn’t dare go far: the beautiful grey-silver sky to the north-west was fading fast and the sky was looking darker and darker. I turned around at the park and headed back. The rain drops started. I increased my pace, nearly knocking over the owner of the cafe round the corner as he set up his outside chairs. Optimistic man on this particular morning.
I got back to the verandah as the rain picked up, and was well inside before the real rain started. Only a 25-minute walk this time, but at least I’d done something.
And much as I’d hate to admit it, it is a great feeling to be finished my daily exercise before 7am. Maybe I will try it one more time.