The art of being

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

Great Lakes Water Walk: #BecauseOfWater

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 in the morning

Lake Ontario bathed in morning light, one of the reasons we joined Great Lakes Water Walk Continue reading

Pokémon Go? No, it’s Algonquin go all the way!

Algonquin’s visitor centre has a board for recording wildlife sightings. When we stopped by the centre a couple of weeks ago, one of the entries read “Mewtwo at Mew Lake” (for the uninitiated mewtwo is a Pokémon, and no, I didn’t know that until our son, who wildlife viewing board at Algonquin visitor centreused to watch Pokémon, told me). I don’t know if it was an actual “sighting” (can I even use the word “actual” in this context?) or if it was meant as a joke (judging by the entry right above it could be). Regardless, it speaks to the latest Pokémon craze, which has been the centre of many debates lately. Proponents of this augmented reality game say it gets people outside and helps them get connected with other players and places they haven’t seen before. The “Pokémon go away” team, on the other hand, doubts if people even notice what’s around them with their gaze glued to the screen. I do think playing Pokémon Go outside is better than ‎Assassin’s Creed in the basement, but I still find it hard to understand why virtual characters are needed to get people out of their house. To me, outside on its own is exciting enough, with all the bunnies, loons, bears and other real life “Pokémons.”

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On turning 40 and travelling alone

“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.

canoeing on Terry Lake in Killarney

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