A few years ago, during our road trip across the U.S., we stopped at the Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota. The cave is currently the third longest in the world and is best explored with a guided tour. So we joined one. Following a park ranger through a maze of passages and tunnels, I tried not to think about metres of rock above my head. As our tour was nearing the end, we stopped on a large platform. Our guide explained that she was going to turn off the lights for a few minutes and encouraged us to listen to the sounds of the cave. Seemed like an easy enough challenge. Once the lights went off and we plunged into complete darkness, I could hear a distant drip of the water. There were other sounds close by: the shuffling of feet, the rustling of clothes, whispers and giggles. On our way back out of the cave, the ranger shared her observation: over the past few years those three minutes of quietness are getting louder. It’s as if people forgot how to be still. Continue reading
Nibi, Gizaagi’igo, Gimiigwechiwenimigo, Gizhawenimigo
Water, we love you, we thank you, we respect you
Nibi Nagamowin (The Water Song)
We make our way through J.C. Saddington park to the waterfront where beautiful Lake Ontario stretches before our eyes. Bathed in early morning light, its waters glisten and melt into the coral sky.
Lake Ontario bathed in morning light, one of the reasons we joined Great Lakes Water Walk Continue reading
It’s an overcast day, the steeliness of the sky reflected in the lake. Our canoe is bobbing up and down on the waves. We try to paddle as close as possible to the rocks along the shore to get a closer look at the pictographs. Red ochre outlines. People in a canoe. A bird in flight. Antlers. Thousand-year-old stories recorded on the land. It starts to rain and we set out to find a campsite before Quetico’ s moodiness engulfs us.
Stories have power. They help us understand the world and connect with each other. They inspire, delight, heal, and bring us together. They are as old as humans and present in every culture. A universal code, a common language. Immortalized into rock, etched onto paper, passed through generations like the most cherished treasures. Stories around campfires, at the kitchen table, over a cup of coffee. Filling up libraries and more recently the blogosphere.
“You don’t have to go, you know,” said my husband as I was preparing for my first solo canoe trip in Killarney.
“I know,” I replied, “but I really want to.”
Good thing he didn’t ask why because I am not sure I would be able to explain.
In books and movies, protagonists usually set out on a solo trip because they find themselves at metaphorical crossroads and feel stuck/confused/lost hoping a solution will reveal itself during those solo nature pursuits.
That wasn’t my story. Apart from occasional detours, the road ahead looked clear if not always level or straight. Sure I was turning 40 but I wasn’t losing sleep over it. I made peace with getting older long time ago. Occasionally I would turn around and think, “Where did the time go?” But then I would look at my children, my husband, my friends, think of all the wonderful things I’ve seen and learned, great trips I’ve taken, and beautiful moments I’ve shared with the people I love and knew: that’s where.
Although, I should say, my 40th birthday did have a role to play in my decision. I felt this important milestone required something bigger and more special than the usual sunrise ritual. So a solo canoe trip it was.
Recently, I read an article about a newly published study that suggests not all people find escape into nature soothing and restorative. On the contrary, they crave a bustling city scene when they need to relax. The idea that traffic and crowds can be anything but stress-inducing is foreign to me, but who am I to judge. One thing I know for sure is that I am not one of those people. I definitely need nature to de-stress and unwind.