No matter how many times I see it, I never get tired of it: The emerald sheen of the surrounding hills this time of the year, the play of cloud shadows and sunshine which makes the grasslands look as if you’re gliding over in a boat and looking down at the sun-kissed grassy bottom of a shallow creek. It’s magical, there is no other way to put it.
I am nursing a recently injured knee so I am cautious while hiking but there is too much beauty to miss if I hold back. After a few days of taking it easy, I venture up the trails again in my favourite park of all.
Colours and sounds reward my efforts as soon as I get on the trail. I spot the last withering yellow petals of the arrow leaf balsamroot, gently swaying with the light breeze; intense blue larkspur, purple aster, and bright yellow dandelions. Higher up I discover bunches of my most beloved: wild flax. The blue of their petals is enough to make a so and so day glorious. The few water droplets left behind by the morning drizzle sparkle on the blue, round and perfect.
I spot wild roses, mulleins, and entire carpets of purple vetch plus a few other wildflowers I have yet to learn (or relearn) the name of. This is not a place where the concept of ‘information overload’ applies; the plethora of learning opportunities is not in the least overwhelming but inviting.
Robins fly alongside us and when dog and I take a break, so does one of them, perched on a pine branch and examining us with curious eyes. After my Mom passed away 13 years ago, a robin (or many,) kept visiting the front yard. A kind of soft feathery comfort sighting which has earned them a special place in my heart since.
The saskatoon bushes we pass by are teeming with birds and chipmunks and the berries are all formed now. Dog and I keep on going up until we get to one of our preferred viewpoints. A few dollops of white and grey clouds float above Paul Mountain. Yet another view I will never grow tired of.
Once back down in the valley we walk along the creek. The dog wades in and drinks some, and we both get startled by a bunch of trout dashing every which way, them too startled. Piscine peace is restored once the dog gets out of the water. The trout regroup in the small sunny pool continuing their underwater dance. The dance of life renewed.
A thought surfaces. How complete and harmonious this place is, with the abundance of marvelous nature cacophony and colours. A living tapestry that us humans have been weaved into since the beginning of time and yet though we have learned so much along the way, we have lately abused our place in it, weakening the fabric where it matters most.
Perhaps that’s why I love this park so much. Because despite the many invasive plants pushing their way into the landscape, including the very pretty, persistent and rapidly spreading salsify (Tragopogon dubius) there is so much harmony to be enjoyed as colours and sounds and textures bleed into each other.
I do have hope though. Nature always finds a way, going through cycles of depletion and renewal, often caused by human activity.
But today is not the day to think farther than that. Today there are dramatic white and grey billowy clouds on a sky as blue as the wild flax flowers, and the air smells sweet of spring turning into summer, and of rain coming.
Today there are fish in the crystalline creek and squirrels run in and out of tree shelters I so wish I could peek inside.
Today I am a witness. Today and every day, here in Peterson Creek Park, and everywhere I have the privilege to go. Today and every day, I invite you to join me. We take care of what we love and I know that it is impossible not to love nature when you immerse yourself in it.