Monday, January 4, 2010

Commuting and the importance of non-adventure

That's me on my way to work, above. I am not a good skier by local standards but I get where I want to go. I mostly use "mountain skis", wide, rigid cross-country skis with bindings that can accommodate large, warm boots.

It took me a long time to realize that one of the most important aspects of commuting is the desire to have no kind of adventure what so ever. There are many routes I could choose to get to the station and that thirty minute train trip those last miles into The Towns. But the longer those routes are, the harder it is to gauge exactly how long it will take me to get to the railroad tracks. In a strange and exotic place I don't mind spending an hour or two waiting for the train, but on work days, in my own environment, I seem to have become fanatical about keeping a tight schedule, transport-wise.

I read once that towns throughout history have normally been sized so that people could get from the periphery to the centre in sixty or at most ninety minutes. The towns grew in area as walking could be exchanged for horse riding, and even more as trams, trolleys and cars came into the picture. If towns grew in population size and transport facilities were exhausted, people would start living on top of each other.

The time I spend on getting from my cabin door to the office varies with the seasons. Including the train ride it takes an hour with an uneventful bicycle ride, an hour and fifteen minutes if I run or ski and an hour and three quarters if I walk. It takes four and a half hours if I have to drag a car trailer behind me while on foot, which I had to do once but hopefully will never have to do again.

I imagined that living here I would make those daily routines part of the whole adventure, that I would get to know my surroundings thoroughly and come to work after frisky, two-hour skiing or bicycling trips. It doesn't happen.

The time spent on my daily trips doesn't bother me. I don't know how many times I've told people in a chirpy tone "imagine all the time I save by not having to go to the gym", and I actually do see it that way. But I want to know when I arrive at the station, and when I get home. Adventures, I'm a little bit sorry to say, don't mesh well with work.


coastkid said...

happy new year northmark...
that is a long commute...
to ski to work here is a novelty for some once every 10 or so years...
that looks better than a car commute though..,and healthy too as you say..

Northmark said...

I figured if I lived next to a balmy beach I would surf all day, if I lived on an island I would get a kayak and yes, if I lived next to a cliff I might jump off it. So, living in a cold country, why not do some minor adjustments so I could ski to work.
Going up goes a lot slower than going down, though.

C.S. said...

Recently found your blog via a "Hermit's List." Living in the southern USA, your life looks like a great adventure -- especially the cold climate. I live in Alabama, and we've had below freezing temps for a week or so, difficult for us!

Really enjoy your blog, as well as the interesting videos. I think most people in the USA could benefit from a commute without a car, the exercise would be healthy.