Monday, September 21, 2009

Walks, water, wisdom

There are times when I wish I had a tape player in my brain, recording my thoughts as I meander the trails with my dogs. Sometimes whole books write themselves in my mind on those walks, the perfect wording to be completely forgotten by the time I return home; other times my mind is bombarded with epiphanies of wisdom as little puzzle pieces of my life fall into place; and still other times I am just so awed by the nature around me, so full of laughter and joy from watching my dogs, so at peace with myself and my world, that the only recording would be one very soft, very prolonged "ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Saturday was one of those days when all those things were happening. The day was perfect - sunny with white puffy clouds, a crispness to the air, a light breeze brushing the trees. The house was clean, the fridge was full, and I had nothing on the agenda. And so the big dogs and I headed off to Osborne Bay Park - 65 acres of field, forest and beach, all designated off leash.

As we crossed the open fields and entered the trail through the woods, I had my first epiphany - I have missed solitary walks! Most of the time, the dogs and I walk around town and along the seawall - pleasant and interesting, with frequent stops to chat with other people and dogs. Other times we walk with friends in off leash areas - often a dozen or more dogs at a time and lots of people chattering. I love both those experiences, I really do. But walking the fields and forest and beaches of Osborne Bay Park I realized that one thing I have missed from my former life on the mainland is the pasture walk to the top of the hill where I sat on the bench looking over the valley, meditating and drinking in the beauty while my dogs romped and explored around me, with not a soul in sight.

View from the fields

From forest to ocean

I have avoided lone walking in more remote areas here because of a natural caution of hiking alone - the fear of two legged or four legged dangers that might be out there. But really, the risks of something happening are pretty small, I am outdoors-wise (I used to teach wilderness survival to youth many years ago), I carry pepper spray and a whistle (among other things), and the places I want to explore are quiet but not that isolated - little pockets of beauty within a few minutes from town.

And so the dogs and I walked and jogged and rested and explored and sat and meditated and just enjoyed the day. We saw two people and a dog just leaving the park as we entered it, and we saw two people, no dog, just entering the park as we left it. For the three hours in between, we were totally on our own with nature.

The fields and forest were alive with fall colours. The trees and shrubs bore brilliant red berries and rosehips and seedpods waiting to burst:

Sometimes the dogs would forge ahead while I stopped to photograph something, and other times I was in the lead as they stopped to check out an interesting scent. Suddenly they would note I was out of sight and come barrelling around the bend together:

Wait for us, Mom!

Someone - perhaps a school group or some campers from the nearby children's camp - has placed bird houses high in the trees along the trail:

Soon we reach the bluff where the ocean is visble and the path starts to slope more steeply down to the beach:

And then we are there. Our own private beach. Other islands in the distance, beautiful shells and seaweed and logs and stones. The call of birds large and small, the gentle splash of small waves on the shore. We walk for a while along this stretch of heaven and then rest on a log and I hear my mind exhale....ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!. I take deep breaths and let the sounds and sights and scents massage the soul - Mother Nature teaches meditation and relaxation as no other can.

I love the look and feel and smell of wood - from living trees to rotting wood to smooth white driftwood with gentle curves and fascinating shapes. The beauty of the wood at Osborne Bay Park begs a blog post of its own, and I'm saving some photos for a seperate entry, but can't resist sharing this beautiful ocean-washed root:

Or this amazing slice of wood embedded in the sand and shells and stones (click to enlarge and see its full beauty, then use back browser to return to the blog):

The beach is fun for the dogs to explore, and they seem to have an innate sense of what is okay to check out with one's nose and what is not. For example, they both steered clear of the jellyfish that still line the shore :

but had no hesitation to try snacking on this empty crab shell:


Sitting on the log on the beach, I had a second epiphany - if the market hadn't crashed last year, I probably wouldn't be here in this beautiful place. I'd always loved the island and had often thought I'd like to retire there - someday. For a year or more, though, I had been looking at places to buy on the mainland - after all, my family is there, many of my closest friends are there, and I grew up there. But even before the recession, most housing was priced out of my reach and so I was looking in communities and neighbourhoods that weren't really where I wanted to be.

When the market crashed and I lost over 30% of my savings I had two choices - either delay retirement to maintain my income and give my savings a chance to recover, or find somewhere with less expensive real estate. And within a very short time I had made my decision, handed in my retirement notice, and bought my little house in this restful little village. For me, it was exactly the right path. And I think Sadie and Charley agree:

I have always believed that things have a way of working out exactly how they should - that what is scary, frustrating, or saddening one day can turn out to be a blessing the next. I can honestly say, on a day like Saturday as I sat on the beach with my dogs and thanked the Great Spirit for so much beauty in my life, the economic events of last year were truly a blessing for me.

For this woman and her dogs, at least, the universe is unfolding as it should.


Janice Gillett said...

Your write makes me want to move there!!

Black Jack's Carol said...

A lovely, peaceful post, Jean, with wonderful photos. I clicked on many of them and enjoyed their full message. I'm so pleased that your move was the right one!