If it wasn’t for my mom’s perfectly tasting braised cabbage dish that had just about the perfect amount of black peppercorn in it… Well, let’s just say that when you’re five and curious about the world outside the yard, there are few things that can pull you back to home base.
So I came back that day and planned to resume my wanderings later. And I did, but in better ways.
I still wanted to see through what was past the boundaries of my big yard, which was, in all fairness, a wonder world in itself with all its red and black currant bushes, grapevine, wild strawberries and the quince trees with perfectly climbable branches.
Exploring the places we’re in is part of our innate curiosity. We become familiar with our immediate surroundings and then extend our explorations.
Like putting together a big puzzle, we learn the place, smell it, feel it with all our senses and, most of all, we learn to intertwine it with who we are. Braids of people and places; the further we explore, the stronger the connection with the place and the better we become at learning about ourselves.
The best way to “taste” a place and know it properly is to walk it. You feel it and “see” it with the soles of your feet. You walk through sunshine, rain, wind and though you may visit the same place many time, it will speak differently to you every time. Just like it speaks differently to you than it does to other people.
As long as you get close enough to hear, that is.
Children in particular are fascinated with going places. Often times they are tempted to take off on their own, not out of unruliness but out of curiosity. So it is only logical to think that the best way to both prevent accidental wanderings and satisfy our children’s exploratory thirst is to roam together.
Ever since the boys were little going places was the norm. Close to home or far, rain or shine, we set out to see the world. Satisfying the said thirst and helping that curiosity bug grow.
We did the same after relocating to Kamloops. We go hiking on weekends, we walk through town, and we take pre-bedtime walks in the neighborhood.
Learning the place we live in, from close and far. We’ve come to have that good feeling of missing Kamloops when we’re away on a road trip, a good sign.
This past Sunday found us visiting the hoodoos at Cinnamon Ridge. We set off following the creek bed, silently watched by the stone and mud giants on both sides. There was no one else there but us. Silence allowed us to hear the sound of flapping somewhere behind some hoodoos.
It sounded big and heavy, perfectly matching the surroundings; an eagle perhaps?
We saw veins of white and pink quartz spanning the walls and wondered how far in do they go? Droplets of broken quartz peppered all over the creek bed made for a good treasure hunt. Rock hounding adds yet another pleasurable dimension to our new home.
We went as far up the dry creek bed as our youngest hiker could take it, and then scrambled up one of the hills to see the view.
The shin scrape and cactus attacks were worth it: Through the narrow space between two neighboring hoodoos we saw the gentle hills that cradle Kamloops, and in the middle, like a sleepy magic carpet, our very own town. Hello.
On our way down, we had it all: exhilaration as we slid down through the ankle-deep layer of dirt that dresses the slope, falling (the youngest of us) and scraping another shin, getting prickled by cacti yet again, and stepping into muddy puddles as we hopped through the creek bed. Humbled by the ever quiet hoodoos as we left them behind.
Now we know the place. Somewhat. We will go back to explore some more, find refuge among the hoodoos and hear the wind whisper and howl as it moves the skies above. We’ll come to know the changing of the seasons on those hills and others.
The boys are curious about places to see. Sometimes they ask to go back to places we’ve been, other times their eyes have had that adventurous glint in them and they’re eager to see new ones. Sometimes they are fearful of new places.
Their occasional reluctance provides an opportunity to talk about how not knowing what to expect in a new place can make us fearful. And how that enhances the experience because most times apprehension dissolves into joy and good memories.
Our travels, hikes or road trips, will feed their need to see the world, while helping them feel the place they are in, learning to call it home – temporary or not – but most of all, respect its richness because it helps them learn and grow.
Originally published as a column under the same name in the Kamloops Daily News on April 14, 2013