Despite my recent rant against the Grand Prix, I am as addicted to the convenience of the automobile as anyone else. I use our car for errands, occasional grocery shopping, carrying my bicycle to the starting point of group rides, and, (here comes the hard part) going for walks.

Two or three times a week my wife will hold out an imaginary leash and do her best Barbara Woodhouse imitation of “walkies.” For those of you too young to have seen Barbara on TV, suffice it to say that she was the Margaret Thatcher of dog training. Viewers sat up straighter when her show came on. Dog owners knew instinctively that they were the ones being trained; not the dogs. My wife doesn’t drive, so if she is to have her favorite walk, I’m part of the deal.

The walk she has in mind is a four-kilometer loop down along the banks of the Maribyrnong River. It is pretty, generally quiet and just enough of a walk to feel like a workout. The alluring part is along the river itself. I’m not sure why, but getting there by foot has always seemed out of the question, even though the river is only about three kilometers from our home.

It is the contemporary conundrum, of course. How does one justify driving a heavy piece of machinery to go for a walk? Or to an exercise class? Or a bike ride? As I suggested in my previous post, it may be time to rethink everything. The perils of global warming and major increases in the price of oil are going to require big shifts in our habits, sooner than we think.

The name Maribynong was probably derived from a native word meaning saltwater river. Although the river starts at Mount Macedon about 50 km north of Melbourne, it is tidal in its lower reaches. Although in the early days of settlement in Melbourne, it attracted polluting industries, it now supports many recreational activities, from biking to boating. It is particularly popular with dog walkers, which may be why my wife has associated it with Woodhouse.

On our last outing, we happened upon an annual regatta called Henley on the Maribyrnong, or Henley on the Mud. Not quite on a par with the glamorous Grand Prix, it is, nonetheless, a colorful event, complete with sleek boats and lycra clad paddlers. The race day commemorates the original Henley Royal Regatta dating back to 1829, a competition between the rowing teams of Oxford and Cambridge.

Summer is finally drawing to a close. Everyone is eager to take advantage of the last long days of sunshine. Even if they feel compelled to drive to the one place they most enjoy going for a walk.

Advertisements