Originally published as a column in NewsKamloops on January 30, 2016. 

Day with boysThe sky was painted in yellow light and beautiful white and blue clouds as the sun was setting in Kamloops. No sign of new snow, just the old hardened dirty banks by the sides of the road, some already transformed into dirty rivulets by the day’s warm air.

Just minutes ago we had left behind at Stake Lake a blizzard so thick and fast it felt unreal. Between getting out of our boots after a day of skiing and warming up next to the woodstove, we were in winter wonderland. ‘That came so sudden,’ both boys said as they ran outside on the cabin porch to look at the white curtain draping ever so fast over the surrounding trails and lake.

We had opted to play some today. After a shorter than usual day of school we took off into the hills, prompted by the morning warm breeze that had the awnings drum a premature spring dripping song.

The trails of hard snow with their surface melted by the midday sun made for some challenging terrain for young kids unaccustomed yet to all the skiing tricks, but it sure compensated in opportunities to bring our school talks with us in the middle of the woods.

Icy tracks on slopes that make you slide backwards again and again offer a wealth of physics observations, aside from the terrible annoyance of finding yourself subject to forces opposing your actual will.

So much to learn from as we followed trails, green and blue, and had clomps of falling snow missing us by mere seconds. The more ‘why’s sprout out of an outing, the clearer the message that if we allow our children to get separated from the great outdoors, a whole lot of learning disappears. For us too.

We all have much to lose if that happens.

We need to see trees to remember why we have to have many of them, countless, and we need to see forests in order to protect them from excessive and irrational logging.

We need to breathe fresh air and see the blue sky in order to be in unison as a community asking that the project that would bring a mine too close to Kamloops be reconsidered. Or that more areas are made available for walking and biking, which will slow us down enough to realize the preciousness of clean air and the beauty of a place where clean air matters.

We need to head out with our children to see the magic of the endless spaces our province is blessed with. Every season has its magic, but winter holds a special place in the hierarchy of wonders as it provides us with stories otherwise invisible: tracks of all sizes left by animals, big and small. It makes visible a world that we are easily forgetting in the rush of everyday life.

It is easy to forget that it is all shared land, easy to take for granted all that the invisible others make happen, easy to forget that we are not the tip of this wonderful world, but part of it, with a duty to try our hardest to keep it in balance.

The delicate and at the same time sturdy features of nature are available to us in Kamloops just steps away from home, wherever home happens to be. On any given day as you go for a walk, stop and take a look around. The vast spaces we have so much of are but an open-end invite to take yourself and your family out there and see the secrets nature so willingly shares if only we make time for it.

The icy slopes near Stake Lake were reason for intense frustration in our little guy at times, but then again, life is like that. If you’re out there, you learn that too.

Ups and downs, bumps and bruises, hope and laughter, frustrations bunched up like a ribbon that wraps around your mood too tight, there is nothing like taking a day off and finding yourself far from your everyday life and staring at shreds of clouds careening over tree tops as if to taunt you… Slow and fast redefined, time as you know it disappearing, and woods silent enough to bring the worries inside your heart down to a whisper. It matters to know that feeling.

Our sacred bond with nature is not one we can afford to let go of. There is simply no replacement. No app for that either, there’ll never be one. We owe this big secret to our children, sooner than later, because that’s what’s going to keep their world alive.