There is a mural along Lawrence Avenue in Toronto that I pass on my way home. It depicts human impact on the planet culminating in apocalyptic vision of the future.
“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.
Yesterday, I had about 20 minutes to spare before picking up my husband from work so I decided to swing by Cullen Bryant Park in East York for a nature pause. It is my second week into a new job so I have been putting most of my energy into trying to get the hang of it and haven’t had much time for nature pursuits. The lack of vitamin N has started to take a toll: I could feel a spring inside me get tighter and tighter. But the moment I stepped into the park the spring started to uncoil. It was a very short walk along the Taylor Creek Trail (although it did include a pretty steep stair climb) and the boots I was wearing weren’t suitable for a slippery winter trail, but I emerged from the ravine feeling like a different person.
“Let’s go find some trees,” my friend said a few days ago. So here we are sitting on a rock in High Park where trees are not hard to come across. They are right in front of us, sticking their bare branches into the sky. I try to block out the noise coming from Queensway and imagine I am in the forest. Not an easy task so I focus on birds chirping and twittering instead.