Into the Woods (a picture post)

Last weekend was a long weekend here in Canada.

Usually, we head out of town and stay in a cottage with our friends. This year, we’d been planning to go to Portland instead, but that fell through. So we decided to stay at home. I was OK with it…something told me that we were going to have bigger adventures in our own backyard than we would on a trip.


I was right.


On Sunday, we picked up some friends and went for a hike at Long Lake Provincial Park. This park is technically in the city (I think), and it’s about a 5-minute drive from our apartment. You wouldn’t know it, though.



The trail heads through the woods and comes out onto Long Lake itself. We played by the water for a little bit, and Xander threw some rocks.


Honestly, I think we could have had a completely satisfactory trip just hanging out by the water…but that wouldn’t have made it an adventure.


We walked along the shore for a bit. This was our first truly summery weekend after a LOT of wet, and the plants were making the most of it. This was the weekend that all the leaves came out.


Eventually, we climbed back up onto the path that leads around the lake. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and the woods smelled of newly-grown leaves and just-blossoming flowers.


Eventually, we headed up a path away from the lake. Well…I say “path”…it had turned into a dried-up creek bed.



Well…maybe “dried up” was an optimistic term. It was still fun, though. It was like a puzzle, trying to figure out which side of the mess would be easier to walk on.



After a long, messy slog, we reached a spot where the creek bed ended and a stream began. It curved around and headed back toward the lake.



This part of the trip made all the time in the mud worth it. We found a path that curved alongside the stream. It was much easier going, and it was stunningly beautiful. We stopped constantly to look at the water.



At one point, we all sat down on a rock by the water. Our ears were filled with the rushing of the stream, the chattering of a nearby squirrel, the sigh of our own breath. It was peaceful beyond all imagining. It was like we were meditating without even trying.



Xander picked up on it too. Usually, when we’re walking around our suburb, he’ll complain that he’s tired within 15 minutes. That afternoon, he walked for 3 hours and didn’t mention being tired or hungry until the very end.



We were getting close to the lake, but the path had one more beautiful sight to show us. We stayed by this waterfall for a long time, taking it in.



And then we reached the lake. Even though you could see the city in the distance, it felt hundreds of miles away. I felt like any amount of time could have passed…we could have been like the people in stories who go off into the woods and come back months later, thinking no time has passed.



As I dabbled my feet in the lake water, I was filled with a sense of wonder and well-being. I felt so connected to the earth and to my ancestors who spent their lives walking through woods. I felt the arms of Mama Earth embracing and supporting us. I felt my muscles, tired, yes, but strong and capable…more capable than I’d thought.


We picked ourselves up and walked back to the car, full to the brim of sunshine and peace, and already planning our next trip back to the woods.

Sometimes you don’t need to travel far to have adventures. You just need to step outside your door.

The dance of gratitude, Part 2: Thanks Giving

Happy American Thanksgiving! I hope that, if you celebrated it, you had a fantastic day. Actually, I hope you had a fantastic day regardless of your holiday status.

Even though I am technically American, I celebrate Thanksgiving in October with my fellow Canadians (ah the joys of dual citizenship…I really don’t know why I don’t just have TWO turkey dinners. Oh wait…because I’d have to cook them. Riiiiiiiight).

TURKEY!!! So delicious…so time-consuming.

Where was I? Ah yes.

While I didn’t eat turkey (and it’s probably good that I didn’t, for reasons which will become clear), I did pause for a moment and count my blessings. Ever since I started my gratitude journal—which I am STILL doing!—I’ve been counting my blessings more and more often. And it feels pretty darn good.

So here is a snapshot of what I was grateful for at 6pm AST on American Thanksgiving, 2011:

  • a warm apartment
  • roasted butternut squash soup simmering on the stove
  • a tray of freshly baked biscuits just out of the oven
  • Florence, my ipod, playing Harry Potter books
  • a tummy almost-recovered from a lightning-fast bug yesterday
  • the fact that said bug was as lightning-fast as it was
  • my amazing husband, who spent yesterday looking after Xander while I was sick, then worked all night to catch up, THEN went to work as usual today. He’s a superhero.
  • my adorable son lying upside down on the sofa and noshing on apple slices
  • the thick layer of snow that fell yesterday without endangering any of my family
  • cozy, freshly laundered blankets to snuggle under tonight
  • impending twinges of Christmas spirit
  • my beautiful, beautiful life
Mummy, Daddy, Xander, and random giant dog (on left) by Xander.

I hope you had a beautiful Thursday, no matter WHERE you live. And I hope that today is just as lovely.