Step one, two, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, ……
It's six in the morning and outside it is pitch-black. Even the moon is nowhere to be seen. And what am I doing this early? I am on my way to work to the place called Hoče, 7,2 km away. Equipped with a flashlight and looking forward to an adventure, the path takes me through an orchard and a vineyard with its sweet smell of ripe grapes. I can hear the early morning traffic noise from the valley, disturbing the peace of the night. But the moment I take the steep winding forest path downhill toward the old graveyard, again the silence embraces me. Now the graveyard candles light the way further down to the wakening settlement of Fram.
…. 1589, 1590, 1591, 1592, 1593………. I look ahead, then turn around, not a soul. No pedestrians, just cars blinding my sight.
Cars are pulling over in front of the school. Parents have brought their children to school. Yes, children around here almost never walk to school. Kids are getting used to the car from their early childhood. When I started going to school 50 years ago, a car was so valuable and rare that my father wouldn't give me a ride, not even in his wildest dreams. And that's fine, because that way I could experience new things each time I walked to school with my classmates.
There. Now I find myself on the main road. Just passing by the bus station, where I often wait for the bus to take me to work. But not today. Today I just walk by. Today, I am a pedestrian. As I keep walking, a group of highschool kids look at me with surprise. The road doesn't have a sidewalk, so I walk along, on grass and sand. The first sunbeams fall across the sleepy landscape. Before me I see a long straight road section with cars rushing by.
…… 3500, 3501, 3502, 3503, 3504, 3505, ……… I look ahead, turn around, not a soul. No pedestrians. Just me and my road.
I don't quite understand him barking and wagging his tail, but it's much nicer listening to him than to the noisy road. And this will not be the last friendly tail-wagger to welcome a lonely pedestrian and make his day.
...................4509, 4510, 4511, 4512, 4513, ……. I look ahead, turn around, not a soul. No pedestrians. Just me and my road, and a tragic scene every few hundred meters. A cat, sometimes a fox, snakes, frogs, birds, but mostly hedgehogs ran over by a car. You can't notice the slaughter while driving a car, but I can see it, because I am walking.
Have you ever noticed that plant diversity is much higher by the road than on the wide meadows? Near the road you can find: chicory, common sorrel, broadleaf plantain, mugwort, erigeron, milfoil, evening primrose, camomile, common dandelion, rough hawksbeard, thistle, tear-thumb and many more. And what about the meadows? There's nothing. Just grass for silage. For the milk to flow and a thriving business. Nobody cares about the fact that milk no longer contains extracts and vitamins given by the healing herbs growing near the road. I look around. All I see is a green desert and a noisy highway.
I'm walking and thinking. I have already walked half the way and my feet keep moving and moving. They don't need fossil fuels to move, only a bit of organic matter and a drop of accumulated sun energy from yesterday. We have conquered the planet on foot, and we will trample it down by car. This magnificent planet shouldn't be called Earth, but a planet of lunatics.
................ 5834, 5835, 5836, 5837, 5838, …………I look ahead, turn around, not a soul. No pedestrians. Just me and my road.
There is heavy traffic. Everybody's rushing to get to work. So do I. I look ahead. Bumper-to-bumper traffic. Suddenly the traffic lights go out and the vehicles stop moving. Some are nervously blowing their horns while I overtake them all. One after another. For a split of a second I'm faster than them. I'm moving closer and closer to the company, where I work. I can see it already. Another 20 minutes. My feet don't hurt and I feel good. Rested rather than tired.
................8756, 8757, 8758, 8759, 8760, 8761, ……. I look ahead, turn around, not a soul. No pedestrians. Just me and my road.
Oh, look at that. Deer and crows in the field, and there's a kestrel among them. What a beautiful sight. A flock of starlings rests on the electric wire. A stork is looking for the last remaining grasshoppers and reckless frogs, not far away from me the grey heron is touching down. A buzzard is sitting motionlessly on a willow, observing the action underneath, and I'm on my way to my workplace.
................ 10594, 10595, 10596, 10597, 10598, ………I look ahead, turn around, not a soul. No pedestrians. Just me and my road.
I take a left turn and after an hour and 35 minutes I reach my goal.
................ 11003, 11004, 11005, 11006 and the last 11007. step.
Now off to work and afterwards back home, probably on foot. I'll see. The walk home lasts a bit longer, because the last part is pretty steep. And picking mushrooms, chestnuts, wild grapes and plums takes a bit of my time as well.
This is a brief testimony of a solitary pedestrian, who desires to finally meet someone on his way to work, with whom he could share the same path, or just to say hi.
Time: October 2013
From A to B: Morje pri Framu – Hoče
A: my home
Distance: 7,2 km
Number of steps: 11.007
Walk time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Why on foot or by bus: because I believe it is the right thing to do
We are turning the planet into a gas cell and we're inside. Nature has not given us feet in order to sit in a car, step on the gas and pollute the air, but to walk and thus take care of our health as well as keep the environment clean. That's why. Step out of the car and hop on a bus, train, buy yourself a bicycle or make an effort to walk more. Action is required more than ever; mine, yours, everyone's.
The 21st century will be a century of personal maturing and social enlightenment. In this century of enormous social changes the humanity will fight the biggest battle of all time -- a battle between ourselves and our conscience. This will be a battle of personal decisions whose outcome will be crucial for us as well as future generations. The fight between good and evil, goodness and greed, modesty and lavishness, tolerance and violence, honesty and deception, bravery and fear will decide how we will enter the next century. As winners or as losers.