I’d been to Hamilton several times, usually just passing through on the way south but I’ve never taken the time to walk it; time to amend that.
I took off with no particular route in mind but with a map in my backpack in case I got lost and I quickly found myself in dead end from which the only choice seemed to be to turn left away from the river or turn back the way I had come but an elderly couple seemed to know where they were going to I followed them. The route took me over the ClaudelandsBridge and into the city centre, from there I found the river pathway and walked to VictoriaBridge, Memorial Park and River Road and thus back to my motel via Grey Street.
You can’t know a place until you’ve walked it, there are some things that can only be observed when you slow down to walking pace and not rush past in a car. The task, as a writer, it to walk and observe, to soak in the sights and smells and sounds of the city and store it away for those times when you need to recreate the experience.
What did I store up?
The scent of the roses that hung over the front fence of someone’s yard, the sound of the train as it clunk-clunked its way over the bridge, the fluid whirls and swirls of the river as it swept past the river bank, the shuffling of a thrush in the undergrowth stopping every time I turned around, the hooded youths in the park sending a prickle of wariness down my spine, the dilapidated hull of the Rangariri rescued from its grave on the side of the Waikato River, the replica of the Spitfire in Memorial Park, the shouts of the children in the playground, the campervans at Claudelands Park for the A&P Show, men on their way to the mosque for prayer, a child banging on a door to be let in.
None of these individual and seemingly simple things can be conjured into a story just yet but they can be stored away into a neat box labeled ‘future reference’ to be taken out when needed – often dropping into my head seemingly from nowhere.
Well, that’s the idea anyway. Whether any of these things will make it into a story is just speculation, but as a writer, none of this can be classed as wasting time. If nothing else, at least I got an hour’s worth of exercise!