Ice n’ Nuts

Friday Hawrelak trees

Friday in Hawrelak Park

This post covers last Saturday (Jan 30) and yesterday (Feb 5). On the weekend, we strapped our micro-spikes on and went for a long walk in Whitemud Creek north of Rainbow Valley Road. It was an absolute necessity as the paths are mostly ice after a week of freeze/thaw and some rain. So little snow this year, and since Christmas, a lot of above-zero temperatures.

The walk was great, as usual. I even remembered to bring some seeds and nuts, which were appreciated by the chickadees, nuthatches and of course, the ubiquitous squirrels, or squirrel. Maybe it’s just one. You never know.

Last Saturday feeding the birds in Whitemud

Last Saturday feeding the birds in Whitemud

Yesterday, Tom and I went for a lunch hour (+30 minutes) walk down to Hawrelak Park in the bright sunshine. It was beautiful. I mean, really beautiful. Such a nice reprieve from the office. One minute in a hermetically sealed environment and the next, sitting at a picnic table in a squirrel-filled park eating tuna sandwiches and enjoying just being together and outside in the fresh air.

Today, Saturday, is also nice and sunny but it’s very, very windy so no walk. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday Whitemud creek

Ice, ice baby (in Whitemud north)

Hawrelak Trail

Hawrelak trail1

A rare but exquisite lunchtime walk to Hawrelak Park today.

My office backs onto Saskatchewan Drive so the path into Emily Murphy and under the Groat Bridge to Hawrelak is easily accessible. But the round trip is about 20 minutes longer than my lunch hour, especially since Tom and I stopped to eat a quick lunch on one of the sun-warmed picnic tables. It was wonderful. Quiet, other than the sounds of chickadees and a single squirrel that was trying to appear busy but was really scouting our lunch. I threw a couple of small pieces of bread in his direction. I should always bring seeds and nuts. You never know when you’re going to meet a worthy squirrel.

I could have stayed there at the picnic table for the rest of the afternoon.

Attention all magpies with canoes

Attention all magpies with canoes

The trail wasn’t too slippery. The usual January melt is on and we haven’t had much snow this winter so it didn’t take long to turn the sidewalks and side streets into swaths of gray ice. I’ve FINALLY replaced the many pairs of micro-spikes I bought last year with the only type that actually works. $42 bucks from the Running Room but worth every spike. I brought them with me today, but didn’t need them. I was able to stay upright for the entire duration of the walk with my face in the bright sun and my feet firmly planted to the ground.

After I got back to work, my brain quickly shut down. Maybe I was tired, maybe my brain was still in the woods. Whatever it was, I was useless for the rest of the afternoon. It was worth every sunny, squirrel-filled moment.

Hawrelak

The mighty Hawrelak lake

1:00-2:20/8C

Hello Again

Whitemud end2

How far I’ve come. I can’t believe I waited so long to dive back into walking this January. Walking used to be top priority. Everything else was planned around it. For years. Decades. The longest amount of time between walks almost never exceeded a few days, barring winter cold snaps and summer rain. Traditionally, December was always a slog; too many things to do, etc, but the solace, the reward, was a walk. It’s much harder now that my current neighbourhood (mostly) precludes walking as a main form of commute, but when something isn’t a priority, it falls off the list. It fades away. I won’t let that happen to walking.

Whitemud end1

When I started walking in the mid-90’s, it fundamentally changed my life. It allowed positive things to grow. It opened the doorway for new things to flood in, freeing my mind, lifting my spirit, placing me – finally – where I belong. There is no where I feel more at home than in the woods, other than in front of a book or a blank page or canvas. I feel very lucky to have discovered this. In so many ways, walking saved my life.

I don’t need convincing. This is just a reminder.

Walk.

And so, I did.

Downy WoodpeckerOn Thursday, Tom and I used my lunch hour to walk from Sask Drive through Emily Murphy to the river valley via the University. Yesterday (Saturday) we went for a two-hour walk in Whitemud Ravine. It was beautiful and restorative. More, please

More and more and more…

Squirrel

Whitemud End3

Whitemud Ravine

-2C/1:30 – 4:00PM (extra time because we ran into Sandy Muldrew and his beautiful old dog Flynn)

Happy 2016

Whitemud Ravine in sunlight

All the usual excuses…blah, blah, blah, boo. It’s not that I didn’t write any posts in December, I don’t think I went on any walks either. Maybe a few. Can’t remember. Too many butter tarts.

Anyway, onward and upward, with some additional downward. About half my usual walk – an hour through Westbrook and then south and east where I emerged out of the powerline. Even mid-afternoon, the sun is setting. Long shadows, golden light, blue sky. I can tell my stamina is down. I was tired after an hour, and that’s unusual. Unusual for me generally, but not surprising at the end of a month of sloth and inactivity.

Seems the ravine carried on without me. Still beautiful. Still bird-filled. Still beckoning.

Bird 1

Whitemud Trees

2:20PM/1C

Beautiful Light

Whitemud light1

Went for a late afternoon walk in Whitemud Ravine. Not late for the dead of summer, but late for the end of November when the sun goes down just after 4:20. The rosy light was turning the snow blue and purple.

Oh yeah, we have snow. Last Sunday and Monday we got about 20cm. The first real snow of the season. Since then, however, it’s been blue skies and bright sun. Very beautiful. Not walking as much as I’d like. I need to take advantage of the lunch hours to get out into the sun.

WHitemud light3

2:30-3:45/-3C

Pond Hockey

Pond hockey

Possibly the last ‘snow-free’ day? Sunday (yesterday) was beautiful. We had a light dusting of snow a few days ago, most of which is gone, but the ravine is still frosty. I’ve started wearing my boots because of the cold, but for the walk I wore capris and my running shoes. Not a long walk, about an hour, but still beautiful. I was surprised that Tom and I were almost the only people down in the ravine in spite of the sunny skies and above zero temperatures. Watched a group of kids playing hockey on the frozen creek. It was a very Canadian moment.

It’s supposed to snow a lot today (Monday) so it’s about to go full winter. Maybe.

Frozen Creek

5C(Sunday)/12:15-1:30ish