December 10, 2006
Despite the busyness of the weekend, I sneaked out early yesterday morning to take a walk with my parents at Pretty Colour Lakes. I haven't been able to walk in my own woods for the last couple of weeks because it's been hunting season. The sound of gunshot makes me hesitate to wander far from my house. I wear a bright red coat, and I know enough to sing or make noise in the woods during hunting season, but I just don't find it peaceful to share the woods with men carrying guns. I could post the land and keep the hunters out, but I don't feel right about that either, since some of my neighbors have hunted here since childhood. Who am I to tell them they can't?
Hunting season ends today, and I am happy about that. Winters are long here, and I know from experience that I need to spend at least an hour each day outside, or I'll be miserable. Whether I am doing something exciting like snowboarding or relaxing like hiking around in my own woods or mundane like shoveling the driveway, just being outside breathing in the cold fresh air puts me in a better mood. When I was a baby, my mother says she used to bundle all of us kids up and take us outside for an hour, no matter how low the temperature dropped; that was part of her recipe for keeping us healthy and making sure we slept well. She and my father, both in their seventies and in very good health, still stick to that formula.
Yesterday, we hiked the trail around Pretty Colour Lake. How different it looked. All summer, the park is filled with green, green, green – leaves that ripple yellow green, green needles that give off scent in the heat, lake water that reflects green blue, bushes and ferns and green that edge the paths, green lawns where teenagers play frisbee. And in October, the park bursts with overwhelming colour: brilliant red and orange maple trees, whole trees saturated with colour, bright yellow leaves and that bright blue sky. Even in November, the more muted colours of autumn, the yellows and browns and darker reds, cover the ground in the form of fallen leaves, and green mosses appear everywhere, glowing.
But a few inches of snow and icy weather transforms the landscape. In December, all colour drains from the landscape. Even the sky was white, and the water of the lake a dark grey. Except for the dark greens of the cedar trees, we walked through a 1930s black and white movie. It was a monochrome landscape, with white snow outlining curves branches and trunks and the bare roots of dead trees. Of course, the summer crowds disappear with the warm weather, and we were the only people in the park. Later in the winter, a handful of people will come here to cross-country ski or snowshoe, but yesterday, we had the woods to ourselves. When I handed my camera to my father, he snapped a shot of my mother and me walking down the trail, our bright coats the only bits of colour in the winter landscape.
Posted by jo(e)