I recently found myself explaining (again) why I am willing to commute such a long distance every day, so that I can both work in the city and live in the bush. Just to give you some context; if I stop for a coffee on my way to the station in the morning, and with the slower trains and delayed connections in the afternoon, it is almost exactly three hours each way, door to door.
The commute itself doesn’t faze me; I have been doing it at least a couple of days a week for years, and honestly, when you live where we live, it takes a long time to get pretty much anywhere. My mother, bless her soul, made a commitment when she bought our property 25 years ago that the distance would never stop her children from taking part in the opportunities afforded to those living closer to the city, so we have been making the trek to see theatre, attend gallery openings, meet up with friends and get my necessary dose of cafe culture since I was tiny (thanks Mum!).
I am a morning person, so getting up in the dark is absolutely fine, it’s just getting home in the dark which I can’t stand. It is for this reason I love summer and loathe winter; the longer days mean I don’t just have to cook as soon as I walk in the door, drop into bed, repeat.
For the past week I have been going for a run along our road in the twilight hours, and it has reminded me why I am so willing to make the bush to city commute. The sun has set beyond the horizon, so there is just the reflected light on the clouds to see by, there is still a little residual heat from the day but it is nice and cool, and the last bird calls dwindle, to be replaced by frogs and crickets. Micro-bats swoop overhead, a mob of fluffy-faced grey kangaroos sit like statues in the paddock watching me pass, and the I startle the wombat that lives in our bush as I come back in the gates, making him beat a hasty retreat under the wooden fence as I stand, catching my breath.
I think, if you use your time wisely, it doesn’t matter how far from somewhere you live. I use the time in the car as an opportunity to catch up with my mother and sister if we are travelling together, or listen (and sing aloud) to Triple J if I am driving by myself. I use the train ride to read, listen to podcasts, and do research for work; in the past I would complete uni readings and write my assignments. I use the walk to and from work to think through my day and people-watch. And when I do eventually get home, I spend my time cooking and laughing in the kitchen with Mum, watering my garden, or going for a run.
All of which might seem long and boring to those who only live half an hour from work, but hey, you have to admit I get a hell of a lot out of my day.
I’d rather live a life full to bursting, experiencing the best of both the bush and the city, than just head home to watch television.
Netflix has got nothing on my view.