Initially published as a column in the AM News.
Last year in May the boys and I hiked to Gibraltar rock near Paul Lake. It was sunny, we hoped to see chipmunks and we also love the view from up there, all perfect reasons to venture up the trail. What we did not know was that on the way up we would spot some fairy slipper orchids.
I am far from being a wildflower expert but I succumb in fascination to any wildflower I encounter. Every one of them is a reminder of the magic that unfolds constantly around us and we are rushed enough to ignore. Kamloops has a richness of gentle beauty, I came to learn as we hiked on many hills in spring and early summer. From yellow spring bells to buttercups, to the bright yellow symphony of arrow-leaf balsamroot flowers covering an entire area, and the gracious mariposa lily, it’s a carousel of wonder that will never stop, unless…
I guided the boys to kneeling gently close enough so they can see their absolute grace but careful enough to not harm them in any way. They did so, but giggled also, pleasured to see my penchant for wildflowers, again, knowing they will likely see them framed as photos in our home.
Another time while hiking in Valleyview, we came across yellow cactus flowers. It was a first that left us breathless. It was a most serene yellow and a most delicate collection of petals, surrounded by the sharp prickles of the cactus plant.
I went back a few days later to see them again. And then again, until they withered and became dust. I took photos of the flowers and the green bees collecting the pollen. Yes, green and shiny, as if the bees I’d known forever just decided to get new armour. Quite the scene.
The landscape from there was beautiful. The Thompson was winding its way through the wind-carved hills on both sides and distant mountains in shades of blue and green stole my gaze. The cloud-stitched sky was the kind of intense blue you feel happy for no reason just by looking at it. No reason to hurry, not even one… And nothing taken for granted, not even one thing.
I often get reminded of my first impressions of Kamloops and the areas that surround it. It was hot and dusty that day and I missed the green lush Coast even before getting out of the car. But I was also of the opinion that every place has its secret beauty, if only we are patient enough to see it, curious to follow new paths and keep our eyes open to both large and tiny worlds that we come across.
Since moving to Kamloops we have been discovering places and their treasures, and countless times I have been reminded of how no place is ever devoid of nature magic.
I was recently humbled while hiking on the rather stark looking hills guarding the lake near Savona. Nothing was stirring and it seemed that every living thing had fled long before we got there. A few gnarly looking trees and the clumps of tired cacti made me think of old cowboy movies where bones littered the ground, which was, of course, cracked and dry. Yet a sweetly sounding bird song shattered that deadly silence and filled the space with life.
Then, out of nowhere, four mountain goats appeared on the cliff above us. They stopped, studied us with as much interest as we studied them, and continued their trek over cliffs, gazing back at times. Magic was there, I was all too blinded by expectations to see it. Tiny purple flowers lined the path every now and then and, as we made our way back, the sky was alight with orange glowing clouds. A symphony of some sort, just in a different tone.
And yet, all is not ideal not when we set out on our adventures. On some portions of the River Trail we notice bags of dog poo left behind, and they are more than just eyesores. they spell the kind of ‘I do not care right now’ that has no place in the world that shelters beautiful blue skies, gracious flowers, and countless wonders that are so selflessly shared with us humans.
As we walk along the river or on the shores of Kamloops Lake, we see various garbage bits, from cans and bottles to plastic bags and other plastic debris, new and old, equally sad and depressing. We collect as much as we can and repeat as necessary. An endless pit of despair really, yet coupled with an ever growing love for the world that so patiently allows us to be.
More so, since my sons have been born, I have been discovering the world through their eyes, skipping a few steps ahead trying to imagine what the world will be like when they grow up, striving to keep it as beautiful as we have it now, as worry-free as I once believed it to be when I was first opening my eyes to it, and for all of that, no effort is too small or insignificant.
On any given day, whether I peek at the dance of the magpies in the front yard, or kneeling to observe the almost surreal beauty of a flower ever so gentle yet sturdy enough to withstand the wildest weather elements, or paddling on lakes and windy canals that feed them, I am constantly reminded of the reasons for writing about topics many consider uncomfortable or less pleasant, and for making certain life choices that allow me to look in my sons’ eyes and say ‘I did what I could, to the best of my knowledge’, and also to immerse myself in the most beautiful and wildest of places knowing that I see their worthiness but I am also responsible to preserve it.
The world… It is never ours to trample over, but live in gently and pass it on, because truth is, we are alive and well only as long as our world is. And that is reason enough to do what I do, and reason enough to try to convince others to do the same.