April 29, 2011
Sprigs of crushed cedar
When I woke up to sunshine, I grabbed my camera and left the house early, not even stopping to comb my hair. I’d been promising myself a morning walk at Pretty Colour Lakes. When I pulled into the parking lot, mine was the only car.
It’s never lonely to walk at a park I’ve been coming to all my life: every spot along the trail holds memories. When I reached the bank where the maidenhair fern were uncurling, I could remember Artist Friend kneeling down to touch the fronds gently with his fingers. When I reached the second lake, I remembered the time a gang of my students painted their faces with mud while they stood in the water on a sunny October day. When I passed the fallen tree near the wooden bridge, I could remember a friend’s two daughters walking back and forth on it as if it were a balance beam.
This week’s stormy weather had flooded parts of the park, knocked down some trees, and left trails pretty eroded. “I’m surprised the park isn’t closed,” I thought to myself as I walked along. The crushed branches of the cedar trees made the muddy trail fragrant. I found my favourite spot on Round Lake and sat for a few minutes in the sun, enjoying the idea that everyone else was rushing off to work while I had this lovely lake to myself.
I saw only one other person: a man fishing on the edge of the bigger lake. He put his fingers to his lips and motioned to something near his feet. When I got close, I could see a snake stretched out on the rock next to him. The snake slithered farther down the rock and the slipped away into a crack.
“I’ve never seen a snake here before,” the man said. We smiled at each other. He took another cast, and I continued around the lake.
The lake is nestled into a hill: it’s the plunge pool from a glacier. So as I walked, the green-blue water of the lake shone on my left, and a steep slope of trees hugged me from the right. I was far away from any traffic: I could hear spring birds as they called to each other.
It did seem surprising that on such a perfect day, even one during the week, that I’d see so few people. But when I came to the end of the trail, I saw orange tape stretched across. A couple of trucks were parked near the beach, and I heard the whine of a chainsaw starting up. It turns out the trail that I’d been on was closed because of the flood. I’m glad I arrived early enough to have missed the warning.
Posted by jo(e)