Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Why walk?

Yesterday we went out for a walk as a family for about 4 hours (coverd about 7 miles in the hills with a picnic stop. Today we are planning something a bit longer - all day and around 12 miles, going over some serious hills/small mountains.

The smaller kids were asking why, and that seemed a good question. There are many answers. One is simply that Anna and I enjoy it (as do all the kids in fact, though only the elder two admit it before the event...). But beyond that, we value time together as a family away from distractions and pressures. Moreover, we have found over the years that one can have a very different quality of conversation while walking than sitting in the house. The time and space, the opportunity for long silences that don't feel forced, the fact that we are looking outward together at the beauty of creation, rather than into each others' faces (or not) create opportunities for talking about difficult issues in a relaxed way. Also it's a great way of keeping fit (it makes me laugh that people subscribe to gyms, drive there in cars, run on a treadmill with the TV on and an iPod in their ears, and then drive on to the next place...) We walk or cycle whenever we can for local things - and I guess we're as fit as we need be and much fitter than most.

And then the kids have such a great time: telling each other stories, singing songs, rolling down grassy banks, playing long imaginative games. And of course, it's a very economical and eco-friendly way of spending time in the holidays. It's a valuable lesson for the kids to learn how much enjoyment one can have from each others' company, with no gadgets, gimics, games or other consumable items (other than Anna's wonderful picnics, which are always a highlight!) And then they sleep so well at night.

So despite the protestations of the little ones, we're off for a major hike today!

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