Sedgefield is overrun with tortoises. Next to the main road leading in to the verdant little town, approaching the public square where the local market is held, and at random lookout points all over.
No one is calling in pest control, however. The tortoise is Sedgefield’s town mascot and features on signs all over in order to remind residents and visitors to slow down. Sedgefield is Africa’s first official Slow Town, part of the CittaSlow movement which started in Italy and has expanded through the years.
And it is slow, beautifully so. Pop in to the local Italian restaurant to find that the head waiter knows just about everyone in town, and they, in turn, know him. Join the plodding groups of locals as they head to the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning to buy their weekly groceries. Sample the incredible locally produced food on offer there – do all these things, and be reminded again of the importance of slowing down.
Slow Food, Slow Towns, Slow Tourism – these are all part of a movement that aims to bring us to a halt every now and then and reflect on the value of our time: Not necessarily to contrast being slow with being fast, but merely to highlight the fact that we should be taking some time to reflect on what we’re doing. The need is evidently great – a statement which is trite, though remains fundamentally true. Look at the abundance of news headlines warning against stress to see the need for a more mindful approach to life (though we hardly need reminding.) In fact, February’s issue of Time features on its cover a peaceful looking woman meditating over the headline: “The mindful revolution: The science of finding focus in a stressed-out, multitasking culture.”
Finding that focus is somewhat easier in Sedgefield, the quintessential Slow Town. I find myself wondering; however: how do we slow down the merry-go-round that is everyday life in a Not-So-Slow Town? Is there a pause button on this thing?
Wishing you all plenty of leisurely walks, locally sourced food, light, love and quality time.