Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing, and a walk in the woods

A walk in the woods last October...

My day started with a walk in the woods.

I’m very lucky to live in a neighbourhood that is minutes from real-world, untouched-by-lawnmower nature. Sure, I have lots of trees in my good-sized yard, lots of grass – well, actually, lots of weeds – and birds that come to my feeder when they’re not swooping out along the cedar hedge and calling down from one of the tall maples at the back of my property.

But getting away from houses and cars and people can be hard in most residential areas, so I’m lucky. A five-minute walk from my back door and I’m looking at a farmer’s field. Twenty minutes later I’m crossing a dam over Guelph Lake and the Speed River, heading onto trails that can keep me away from Where People Live for a few hours. Heck, the other day I walked for a few minutes down the streets of my neighbourhood and turned off into the trails that meander towards the lake, or along the nature area tended by the monks at Ignatius College. I can cross busy Highway 6 (the Hamilton to Georgian Bay route) and disappear into the woods and farmland of the College’s wild (in places), cultivated (in others), and welcoming property.

I’m lucky. I don’t know about you, but I need nature. It calms me, warms or cools me, and - especially - feeds my creativity.

Weather doesn’t matter (although I’m not that great at floundering through snow, and my snowshoeing technique is pretty lame and inefficient). Rain, wind, snow, sun, heat – bring it on. Nature copes, and so do I.

My trusty steed
Walking in the woods, or riding my bike on trails away from cars and people, I find my creative mind starts to burble below the surface. The To-Do List fades away as something else takes over that space behind my eyes. (You know, the eyes are looking at a creek and tall grasses, but in that space I'm seeing someone searching for clues. Clues to what? Who is this person? Wait a minute, it's a teenager, and he's - no, look again - she's frantic...burble, burble, burble...). Movement of the body begets movement of the mind. Walking down a busy street can have the same effect, of course, but there's something magical about getting away from pavement, from technology, from noise. Instead - trees, water, birds, wind. Nature.

So my day started with a walk in the woods. Now, please excuse me. Ideas rising to the surface...

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