Yesterday was a perfect afternoon for an amble. At the end of a pretty steady week at work and multiple evenings of meetings, a stretch of the legs seemed like the perfect transition back to life. And it was.
Autumn on the west coast doesn’t have the same vibrant intensity of the Eastern maples, elms, and … whatever other deciduous trees they have that we don’t. It has it’s own beauty though. A softer beauty, perhaps, but one alive with texture, soft colours. In my twenty-minute meander I saw more life than I’ve seen in a long while.
A tree at the edge of a school yard is bright with green leaves and red apples. This neighbourhood was once farmland, and the reminder of those days makes me smile and wonder what life was like then. Across the highway the hillside is singing with frogs. I can’t see them, but their voices transport me back to the soggy rainforests of Jamaica when rain has eased the heat of the day and the treefrogs are rejoicing in the wetness.
I enter the trails of Cuthbert Holmes Park and am struck by the wide variety of berries in white and multiple reds on high trees and low shrubs, not to mention the late purple black stragglers on the blackberry brambles. I imagine the Thanksgiving centrepiece the red and white would make. I am not the only one captured by the berry bounty - a fat grey squirrel is munching down on a bush of crimson globes that look to be bursting with juice and flavour - when I stop to photograph him he pauses in his meal, but quickly decides that the reward of the pincherries(?) is worth the risk of my presence.
Cuthbert Holmes Park is popular with dog walkers so there are always people and pets to greet on their way. One gentlemen had two of my dream dog - the most perfect golden retrievers. Well behaved, beautifully groomed, friendly, but not overly so.
From the bridge crossing Colquitz Creek I’m surprised to see a male mallard duck, though he’s far enough away I don’t stop to watch for long. Around the corner and through another abandoned orchard I startle a feral bunny. This part of the city is full of them, though oddly you are more likely to see them on from the highway than in the park. I suppose the park is their territory where they usually move before I get near enough to see them. This was a small one. And fast. The poodle approaching from the other direction missed out on a good chase.
With that kind of life to observe, the walk passes quickly. I run my errands, head back to the mall entrance, and see the day has turned from bright sunshine to steady rain. That is another feature of the westcoast autumn - as a trade off for the duller foliage we avoid the flooding, freezing downpours of the east coast, though our weather changes in a moment. I could wait it out, but - as my dad? mom? grandpa? - used to say, I'm not made of sugar - the rain won't melt me. Other walkers, mostly still with their dogs and much better prepared for the weather than I am, continue to greet me on the paths.
I get back to the bridge, and Mr. Drake has been joined by a small group of friends who look happy with the rain. Personally, I don't have the same ability to let water roll of my cotton-clad back and by the time I near home I’m looking forward to flannel pjs, a hot tea, and a quiet evening in. And I can't stop smiling. Even here on the edge of the city the healing powers of nature are able to weave their magic.