Weary walkers wait the last days out

Tired walkers tramp foot by foot down winding dusty road. Unbounded fields of green grain grow alongside. On the horizon cars whirr past. Foot by foot, step by step, blisters complain and pussy conspiracies are hatched, files are swallowed, and dead cell inmates drug guards and make a break for it – only to be caught in socks.

Walking done for the day, dusty troopers sit and wait, and wait, and wait, as, one by one, showers are had. A dank bath holds cracks and old lost hairs. And water. Just. With no curtain containing them musty warm droplets ooze and splatter off aching dry bodies and skid along a sodden floor. Towers are clutched like a golden ticket, like a single last hope, for cleanliness, for acceptance.

An old farm room holds memories and mementos, the bygone hopes of decades. Pictures of racehorses accompany paintings of racehorses and the odd newspaper clipping, also of racehorses. Clearly, there is a bit of a thing with racehorses. Old books have gone to seed and sprouted dust and form untouched stacks on shelves. They’re so undisturbable, so immaculate in their discardedness, that they’re no longer props, no longer part of the furniture, but a part of the décor that you’d have to be heartless to upset. Like painted books painted in the backdrop of a high school drama.

Light is fading like a shirt after too many washes. Volunteers slice salad greens and dinner comes together in fits and spurts. An intimidating pile of timber, tree trunks and last year’s branches, awaits an igniting flame, promising to entrance and heat for hours in to the fast-approaching night.

The final few days of the Walk for Solar hide around the corner. The last couple days of walking evoke mixed reactions. One wants it to end, wants the walking to stop, to traipse the final step, to be able to collape, at last. To sleep, perchance to dream. But what then? The walk insulates, envelopes, provides a predictable certainty of foot after foot, makes decision-making easy, makes planning obsolete. The Walk is Fosse’s Cabaret. Here, life is beautiful. The people are beautiful. The music is beautiful. What use is sitting alone in your room?

The last two weeks have held an andante pleasure. We’ve all accepted that walking the 328 km from Port Augusta to Adelaide is the best contribution we can make to building solar thermal in Port Augusta, to solving the climate crisis. For two weeks we’re doing a bit, while an invisible team drives cars, prepares meals, unblocks toilets. But in three days we’ll arrive, we’ll return to a boggling world where few meals are vegetarian and people are a little less willing to tend to your blisters. The walk will have stopped. But the campaign must go on.

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