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Back to the Country: reflections on a walk

Earlier this week, I dropped my husband off at work, pointed my car west and drove out of the city. I knew where I wanted to go: a natural area a few kilometres away from where I grew up. I had planned to start strollercize that morning, but the class got cancelled. I thought I’d go to a park and walk there with Sunshine instead. Now that I was trying to decide which park to go to, however, none of them jumped at me.

I wanted out of the city. Somewhere with no traffic, fewer people, and more wildlife.

The parking lot was almost empty when I pulled up. Midday there aren’t many people at the natural area, but on the weekends and in the evening it is busy with walkers, joggers, and bikers. I loaded Sunshine into her stroller and while it bounced over a trail that was rougher than I remembered, she smiled and waved her arms.

When I found a bench overlooking a small pond, I stopped to change and nurse her. The wind blew ripples in the deep blue water and rattled the cattails on the edges, while across the pond a green mist of early spring leaves covered the trees.

When we went on, a biker passed us, and I remembered times I’d ridden these trails with my friend. Mom and I had also often skied them in the winter—this was where I’d learned to love cross country skiing and decided I wanted to try downhill skiing. As a family in the summer, we’d come here to walk or to train for an upcoming hike. Now here I was with Sunshine, who was starting to get tired of all the bouncing in her stroller. So I found another little area overlooking a marshy area, and we sat down in the grass.

I felt like a Thoreau sitting there, listening to the chorus of frogs reverberating from the marsh and watching some ducks wagging their tails as they paddled about their own private puddle. It made me realize how much of spring I’ve missed by living in the city.

Like stepping outside the door to hear the frogs singing on a bright spring morning, and knowing that winter was gone for good.

Walking past one pond and hearing the sudden silence and imagining the hundreds of invisible froggy eyes fixed on you, waiting for you to pass so that they can go on singing, while in the distance other frogs kept up the chorus in their ponds.

Seeing the first fuzzy pussywillows growing by the road while we were walking, and begging Mom and Dad to let us pick just one branch to take home with us, so that we could pet the pussywillows and marvel at their softness.

It reminded me of seeing the stars back at Christmas. My husband and I were staying at my in-laws’ farm in the foothills, and we’d just returned there late at night after visiting in the city. As I stepped out of the van, my eyes were pulled upwards, to the darkest sky and the brightest stars I’d seen in a long time. I stood there with my mouth open, just enjoying it, and realizing that I hadn’t seen that in a whole year—since I had moved into the city.

That was when I truly realized the beauty of the night sky and how I’d taken it for granted before. During my travels in Australia, I’d been dumbfound when one Belgian fellow I traveled with was so astounded by the stars in the Outback; he’d never seen stars before, because the light pollution in Belgium is so bad.

When I left the natural area, I drove through the winding back roads that I had once known so well to my old home. I stopped to visit some friends, and listened to their youngest boy’s tales of catching tadpoles and watching redwing blackbirds.

As I drove home I realized that I’m tired of the city. I knew when I moved it was only temporary and for the convenience, while my hubby and I were working and going to school there. But now this country girl is ready to get back to the country.

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One Response

  1. Janet Rubin May 19, 2008

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