Pretty much every morning I take the dog out for exercise. We used to run, but recently I’ve traded in my running shoes for a mountain bike. After easing into my riding muscles on the flat Trans Canada Trail that runs past the bottom of our property, I’m now ready for the hilly trails through the 160 acre forest next door. We go out the west gate of our property and head onto the power line trail. This photo shows a section of the trail that I call “our road”, a wide stretch that leads from our gate (where I’m standing to take the photo) to a four-way trail intersection (up where the power pole is in the photo). This stretch of road is therefore only used by us, which is why I call it “our road”.
The power line trail is wide; BC Hydro (our power company) maintains a 20 metre wide cleared area. At first it is surrounded on both sides by a forest of mostly Douglas fir, with thick low-lying vegetation in the undergrowth and open spaces between the bare tree trunks (Douglas firs need sunlight; as they grow they shed their lower branches). I love to look into the woods as I go by; the sunlight is dappled and plays along the tree trunks as I pass.
Farther along the trail, one side opens up to a field with a small road leading to the cemetery. It’s my favorite viewpoint.
The cemetery was established by the local Chinese community and holds the remains of Chinese workers who helped build the railway during the end of the 19th century. Where the few grave markers can still be seen, the daisies have bloomed in abundance.
The cemetery lies on a hill that provides a lovely view of the valley and the mountains beyond.
Invariably, as I’m walking or riding along I develop a deep sense of calm and happiness. For me, being out in Nature is the closest thing I can get to a spiritual experience. I feel myself lightening, as though weights were lifting off me. My mood improves, often to the point of being positively glowing. I’m generally not exerting myself the way I used to when I was running, and yet I feel the same endorphin high. My senses seem to be particularly alive: I hear the birds singing and the wind rustling through the trees and grasses, when I enter the forest trails the cool humidity dances across my skin, I smell earth and greenness and fresh air. I look at the plants, noting how tall they are growing, which are bearing flowers, and seeing the first fruits (huckleberries, salmonberries, and wild strawberries). I use this time to practice being present, letting go of any worries or anxieties that may be distracting me from fully being in the moment. To be honest, it’s hard to hang on to a bad mood when I’m out walking or riding. I can’t help but appreciate how lucky we are to be here, in this time and place, with these quiet and beautiful natural surroundings. I feel in my heart that I have finally found Home.