I left the conference at the university to go for a walk around town. Wandered through the Botanical Gardens, with its blooms and interesting trees and people soaking up the sun; then along the famous cobblestone streets lined with very tidy, very old small houses, until I found downtown. Dipped into the thousand-year-old Lund Cathedral for a few minutes, and continued on around the town. I've been here such a short time, but there are some things I really like about Sweden: the steep roofs and clean lines of the buildings; people on foot and on bicycles far outnumber the cars; smells of lilac and cinnamon; they let the grass grow long and the dandelions bloom. I ended up walking through the Kyrkogården again on my way back to where I'm staying. It's the place that is my magnetic centre in this town - no matter how lost I get, every day I end up back there among the flowers and the tombstones.
Location: Central Lund, Sweden
Length: 6 km
Date: 16 May, 2019
Anti-dérive, Copenhagen, Denmark
The dérive, or drift, is a kind of urban walk in which the walker aimlessly wanders the city, following no map, visiting off-limits spaces, getting to know the hidden, unseen, and neglected parts of the city.* With only one day in Copenhagen my walk was the exact opposite. I followed a tourist map's self-guided walking tour though the most scenic and well-known parts of the old centre of town. The dotted line on the map took me past canals lined with colourful houses and houseboats, Queen Margrethe's palace, the main city squares and the cutest crooked old streets, and of course to the city's famous twice-decapitated little mermaid. Jetlag had me taking a couple of long breaks at the ubiquitous Espresso House Coffeebar, and at 8km or so, I had to take a shortcut back to my hostel.
*The dérive, or drift was a psychogeographical walking practice defined by Guy DeBord and the Situationist International (SI), a mid-20th-century radical avant-garde French group of artists and theorists. The dérive, with its deliberate purposelessness and disorientation, is a practice of walking in cities that subverts the expected use of urban spaces. It was one of the radically disruptive measures or détournements that the SI used to undermine the capitalist system.
Location: City Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Length: 11 km
Date: 13 May, 2019
The Flats, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Morning walk to Medalta. Downtown coffee, graffitied tunnel under the railway tracks. Through the Flats, getting lost as always on streets that bend in unexpected ways. Industrial Ave. to the old manufacturing part of town, where they used to make dishes and crocks and bricks. Clay-filled hills rise up all around, like an arm hugging this neighbourhood close to the river. Work day much improved by walking there.
Location: Downtown to Medalta, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Length: 3 km
Date: 24 April, 2019
River Valley Park, Redcliff, Alberta
A sunny Sunday walk down by the river sandwiched into a full weekend, sharing the trail with dogs, horses, walkers, cyclists. Spring comes comes slowly here, but it comes to the river valley first.
Location: River Valley Park, Redcliff, Alberta
Length: 3 km
Companions: Heather, Daryle, Tom
Date: 21 April, 2019
Medalta to IXL, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Exploring the trail system behind Medalta on a sunny spring day. Everything is brown, but the deer and the rabbits are out grazing. The mud is drying. Ross Creek, a tributary to the nearby South Saskatchewan River, is running cheerfully. It is so good to walk free of snow and ice and mud.
Location: Medalta Potteries to I-XL Brickworks, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Length: 2 km
Date: 28 March, 2019
Oil Change Walk, Medicine Hat, Alberta
I had an hour to kill while I had my oil changed.
I had an hour to wait while I had my oil changed.
I had an hour to explore and move and get some fresh air and think while I had my oil changed.
Location: Medicine Hat, Alberta
Length: 5 km
Date: 15 March, 2019
Snowshoe Walk, Boulder, Montana
The snow is deep, the sky is blue, the sun is out, it’s a perfect day for a walk on snowshoes. The contours of the land are soft and shadowed under sparkling snow, and the pine covered hills rise up all around the valley. We followed paths made by humans and by deer, first heading face-first into a small but cold easterly breeze, then turning our backs to the wind and climbing the hill to the old concrete hotsprings catchment. There were tracks of birds and weasels and other creatures scattered across the snow. The surface of it with its small footprints and planes of light, and its organic shapes formed by wind and land, and the way it catches light and shadow. The patterns of nature are so beautiful, so un-human, often overlooked by our eyes looking for more human meaning in the landscape.
Location: Boulder Hot Springs, Boulder, Montana
Length: 2 km
Date: 10 March, 2019
Coulee Walk, Lethbridge, AB
It warmed up to minus fifteen during the week, but this weekend it was back to -30°C. We bundled up and went out anyway. A sunny day, with that cold, hard, invigorating winter brightness. We walked a loop from Fort Whoop-Up on well-maintained trails. They seem to plow the park trails more than the streets or sidewalks in Lethbridge. A train passed over the trestle bridge 95 meters above our heads. The Oldman River was mostly frozen, but a couple dozen geese were huddled around a patch of open water, unmoving in the cold. You have to wonder why they didn't fly south when they had the chance.
Location: Indian Battle Park, Lethbridge, Alberta
Length: 2 km
Companions: Rose, Helen, Olivier
Date: 3 March, 2019
Isla Mujeres, México
It rained all day. But it's warm enough, so I went for a three hour walk in the rain. Isla Mujeres is only 7km long and less than 1km wide, and lies between the Gulf of México and the Caribbean Sea. The waves washing up on all sides, the saltwater lagoons in the interior, and the rain running down the rooftops and flooding the streets, all make it seem as if this island is only barely land. It belongs to the water.
I walked through the interior of my mid-island neighbourhood, spotting a kingfisher and a snowy egret in the lagoon. The poorer streets are in the middle of the island, and the contrast between poverty and casual luxury, which you find side by side in many parts of México, is shocking yet somehow normalized. Winding my way across the island, I walked along the east coast, which is rocky and unsafe for swimming. The taxi drivers kept honking at me to offer a ride. Why is the gringa loca walking in the rain? I happened upon the lovely Mango Cafe for lunch and a cappuccino, grateful for the friendly staff, hot food, and the chance to dry off for a bit before heading back.
Location: Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, México
Length: 5 km
Date: 12 February, 2019
Random Walk, Mérida, México
It wasn't a walk in any intentional sense, just going about my business today on foot as usual. Even in my short time here, I'm starting to run into people I know as I walk around town, including my new amigo Asunción. Pink houses are everywhere, even though Mérida is known as the white city. Nostalgia is beginning to creep into my days.
Location: Mérida, México
Length: 6 km
Date: 5 Febrero, 2019
Sandra Cowan likes to walk on trails, paths, and city streets. She is based in southern Alberta, Canada.