We can all walk – travelling by Shanks’s Pony it is called – which is a wonderful way of exploring an area, watching birds, looking out for plants, and – if you are fortunate – animals. I was walking alone in the bushveld when I happened upon this waterbuck – truly a special moment.
The desire to move faster and be more mobile is strong. So it is that one of the first modes of transport children get to master is riding a bicycle.
I used to long for a bicycle and was delighted when I was allowed to use the ‘farm bike’ when we stayed on the family farm for extended periods while I was in primary school. This was a heavy, men’s bicycle (with a cross bar) which was far too large for me to ride whilst sitting on the saddle so I rode standing up, with one leg through the cross bar – not the most comfortable position, yet it gave me the freedom to cycle around the farm and later to explore the dirt road that led to the farm. The wind in my hair, the dust on my face, the sheer wonder of being able to cover distances faster than I could walk made up for any awkwardness of posture. Speaking of dirt roads, they conjure up images of ‘the road less travelled’ and exciting expectations of out-of-the-way places. I think this picture sums up the anticipation that dirt roads bring.
Looking up at a vapour trail in the sky can create a yearning for travelling ever further and faster.
Whether one is flying between cities in South Africa or to continents far away, the sight of aeroplanes parked on runways takes the desire to travel up a level – the possibilities are endless.