Beautiful and warm today. Also windy. Knocked the bird feeder over twice! Fantastic walk in the ravine. Lots of people in shorts. A wee bit of ice on the shady part of the path, but otherwise clear. 17C.
First butterfly of the year – the beautiful Mourning Cloak butterfly (near the Strathcona Farmer’s Market). Almost always the first butterfly I see in the spring!
February 1, 2023:
I just realized I haven’t posted here for awhile, but I thought I would mention that yesterday and today it’s 7C. Too windy to walk but still mostly sunny and melty. Walks were had by all. Fun was also had by all.
On that subject, walks were few and far between from November to now, but mostly the last two months of the year. Lots of reasons. Weather, of course. Tom’s varying health concerns. But also stress. It’s counterintuitive not to walk when I’m stressed because walking has long been my release when I’m up in my head, but in a few general and in some specific ways, my life has become more complicated in recent years. In my thirties and forties, it was pretty much just me, so life was simple. Work, read, write and walk. That covered most of my daily activities. Priorities were easy to set. Now, we are two. Three, if you count the cat. It’s not so easy anymore to do as I please.
In the midst of my stress in December, I was so desperate for a way through, I tried to remember the last time I was truly happy. I’m not sure what time frame memory this takes place, so I’ll just mention the circumstances that were conducive at that time to my happiness. At this point in my life, I was walking almost every day. On this particular occasion, it was warm outside. I was in shorts and a tank top. I was walking on the trail that leads to the (now old) Walterdale Bridge, just past Skunk Hollow. I felt wiry. I felt strong and lean and alive. I was running up steps – sometimes on the trails, or otherwise walking for hours, completely in the moment, taking in birdsong and the lush, summery vegetation of the river valley. My only thought was which turn to take. Which trail to follow. I knew that at the end of my walk, through Mill Creek Ravine, I would probably get a trail mix cookie from Wild Earth Bakery and spend the rest of the afternoon reading. This was my very regular weekend activity. Walking and reading. I was not married, or part of a relationship. I had a job I wasn’t overly fond of, and in an apartment that wasn’t great. But, I loved my neighbourhood, I loved exploring my ravine, and I loved reading one book after another. In hindsight, I had agency. Not all of my choices were great, but I had discovered a few things that truly made me happy and absolutely priorized them.
Around this time, I submitted a story idea to Kevin Wilson at the now defunct See Magazine, and not only did he take the story and the illustration that accompanied it, he became my friend and mentor. I started writing regularly for the magazine. Bits and pieces, here and there. After several months he convinced me to start a children’s illustration blog, and then a walking blog. Work became very tolerable because I used every spare moment I had, and some that I didn’t, writing for either the magazine or the blog and thinking about what trail I would take home. I was obsessed. And happy. It was the first time in my life beyond university and my years-long illustration gig with Hole’s that I felt creatively challenged, and gloriously productive. And on a side note, I also loved drawing for Hole’s. Common thread, being creative. So, the things that make me happy, illustration, writing, walking and reading.
Now, I no longer priorize those things. I read maybe 12 books a year, if that. I blame social media for shortening my attention span, but the truth is, it just stopped being a priority. My walks are so much shorter now because for this last year, Tom either doesn’t want to go for a longer walk, or he needs to stop half way at the coffee shop to rest. I miss the solo adventures of my walks, without a step counter, without thinking of the time, without thinking about another person’s comfort. My introverted nature is mightily challenged these days.
But when I can, I walk.
It’s -32C so no walking, but look how pretty this bunny is lit up by our Christmas lights! I feel sorry for these poor beasts, as well as the birds in this miserable weather. Glad she can find some sustenance in the birdseed, although I did leave out some carrot tops.
It’s been a minute since we went for a walk. Tom was feeling poorly for awhile, so we didn’t walk anywhere, and work was quite busy. So finally today in the late afternoon we went for our usual walk, and it was beautiful. Sunny and 6C. In fact, the last couple of weeks have been very nice. We got a dump of snow the first week of November starting on the 1st (like clockwork) and really nothing since. It’s still fairly white outside, but the main streets are completely clear and there isn’t much depth on the ground. If only it would stay that way.
It was the warmest October on record here in Edmonton, but it seems like a long time ago as I sit here in my home office, cold, and looking out at the snow flying in the arctic wind. It was warm on Halloween (we got more than 100 kids!) but the next day the weather started to turn, and by November 2, the snow was falling. I really need to learn to embrace the winter. I used to love it, but it gets harder every year. It’s supposed to be sunny on Wednesday. That will help. No walks in November at all, other than Friday (Nov 5) when we were downtown for an annual visit with Tom’s investment banker and walked most of the way home.
14C and snowing.