It’s hard to use the word ‘commute’ to describe heading into the university. I tend to associate commuting with the long, hard slog into a major urban or exurban area, facing day upon day upon day of grim labour – or quite enjoyable labour made grim by the knowledge that on any given Tuesday afternoon, you’ll be found at your desk, doing the same thing you were doing the Tuesday before, and the same thing you’ll be doing the Tuesday after, until the END OF TIME.
(For the Myers-Briggsians among you, I’m an ENFP, occasionally testing as an ENTP, and I’d rather eat glass than get stuck in a routine.)
Commuting, then, takes on the same tone. Back and forth, back and forth, the same way every day. I’ve tended in the recent past to have fairly long commutes, about an hour and a half each way on a good day, and though I know that stupendous thousands do that without batting an eye, it was enough for me to quit my penultimate job. Grim, grim, grim.
Going into the university is often a slog, but rarely a grim one. First, I don’t *have* to do it. (This is closely related to the fact that I’m not getting paid.) Second, I usually only need to be there about three days a week, and not always the same three days (joy!). Third, and most importantly, I go by bike.
It’s 10 miles each way, very nearly to the hundredth of a mile, or 10 and a half if I go the partially off-road route. I ride like a tortoise on my touring bike (relatively heavy bike, thick tyres, weighty panniers). Whippets in lycra flash past me on their skinny-tyre carbon fibre road bikes like I was going in reverse. To be honest, even stodgy middle-aged guys on hybrids tend to do the same… but speed isn’t everything. Or at least that’s how I console myself while trudging uphill in the rain.
I love cycling. I luuuurve cycling. (I’ve never figured out how you’re supposed to say ‘lurve’, but it looks good.) I even love it when it involves trundling down a narrow, fast road in the pitch black with rooks cawing beside my head and lorries screeching beside my knee. And while I have a very limited choice of routes, I find enough change to keep me out of the mental rut that I got in behind a wheel, or jockeying for the last middle seat in a miserable, cramped commuter train to London.
This time of year in particular, the light changes noticeably every few days, and potholes appear as if by magic! The daffodils start to emerge, which makes me insanely happy, partly because they’re one of about four types of flower that I can reliably name (and yes, I know, that more than my accent marks me out as not a native Englishwoman). I keep tabs on the various clutches of daffodils along the roadside. Last year I worried dreadfully when there was that hard frost right after they started to bloom, and this year the smallest, earliest ones got partly smooshed by the high winds last week. But there they are, and there they will be – briefly.
I’ve had in mind for a year and a half now to do a project with my photo collection. For 12 months, I took a photo every morning of my commute. While I decide what to do with them, here are a few to look at.