July 21, 2011 —
Years ago, my husband concocted the notion of instituting a weekly, day-long moratorium on driving. He called it a “No-Car Day.” We would do all our chores and errands on weekdays, after work. Then, on either Saturday or Sunday, we religiously refrained from driving, taking a kind of automotive Sabbath we honored and kept holy.
At first it was hard to slow down. Weren’t we supposed to have places to go, people to see? We felt restless. But we got used to staying still and letting the hours pass. It was relaxing to spend a day moving only as fast and as far as our bodies would allow. It didn’t take us long to look forward to our No-Car Day.
After we retired, we were able to expand No-Car Days to Double No-Car Days. My husband has even enjoyed several No-Car Weeks (not in a row, mind you), which he calls “a rare and special treat.”
Using cloth napkins and CFLs, buying organic carrots and recycling are easy ways to green one’s life, but reducing driving presents a substantial challenge, especially in these parts where the closest supermarket is 14 miles from home. Still, with a little forethought, No-Car Days can extend to No-Car Weekends and, dare I suggest it, a No-Car Week.
I bravely go where no woman has dared to go before by proposing this radical idea: How about a no-driving vacation? What if you didn’t get into your car at all? For an entire week? It might be the perfect getaway, especially with the price of gas creeping up to $4 a gallon and the economy plummeting. One might reconsider driving to some exotic vacation spot, given that, as a friend of mine likes to say, “People come here for vacation.” He means the Upper Delaware region.
As I write these words, it occurs to me that I’ve got to put my walking shoes where my tires used to be. I’ll pull the car into the garage and take the challenge. If I go anywhere, it’ll be on foot. Heck, I’ll even add a few no-screen days, eschewing all electronic devices. I’ll have my binoculars ready for some quality wildlife watching. I’ll read, talk with my neighbors, skip stones on the lake, camp in the backyard. I’ll move at a human pace, so much slower than 75 mph.
I’m sure my experiment won’t change the world. But it will prepare me for the coming years when the price and availability of gasoline will make doing without it a necessity and indiscriminate driving a luxury.
In my next column I promise to report back to you. Like Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, and people who take the “No Refrigerator Challenge” (yes, there is such a thing) in the effort to green their lives, I’ll let you know all about my adventure. In the meantime, stop by and see me. I may need a visitor from the outside world.