I recently moved to a city. From the country. Yes. What a silly thing to do, you say. You are shaking your head, I know! Everyone wants to LEAVE the big bad city, the traffic, the pollution, the noise, the fast pace, the STRESS! They want to have cottages in places like the town I left. They want to have cottages like the house I gave up. They all dream of retiring in exactly the kind of place I left. They want to slow down, to recuperate, to enjoy nature…to enjoy living and just…be.
Even dogs can run leash free on trails in the woods or in a backyard of 2.5 acres, chase rabbits, poo and pee wherever and whenever the mood to do so strikes, and lay untied on the front porch, content and energy spent. That’s what my dog Molly used to do.
So, a year spent upheaving my quiet life, the life I had always wanted, and now I’m here. In the city. For love. (awwwwww)
Well, I have settled in quite nicely. A smaller house, on an actual street – with other people!! Molly barks at them all the time. When she’s tied up out front. It’s a young neighbourhood and the trees here are a little bigger than saplings…so I planted the biggest blue spruce I could afford. We have explored the neighbourhood, Molly and I, trekking down unknown paths and armed with poo bags, (you have to pick it up here you know), my new fitbit is proof that I walk a little further each day, and today we found…the woods.
I’d heard about the woods. If I had known to turn down the path to the right I would have gone sooner, but we didn’t go that way every time. There were enough routes in the area to mix it up and still connect back to the path that led home.
The path to the right followed a fast moving stream. The dump of snow last week had almost all melted away. I treaded on month old leaves as I approached the entrance to the woods, and when the corner house’s backyard landscaping was behind us, the bare trees spread out in numbers that made my heart skip. Gently rolling leaf covered paths, the kind where you had to step over, or on, the exposed roots of a tree now and then. Not too manicured or planned or maintained, but a trail worn enough that you knew where you were going next. I am so excited to see it next spring when the new leaves appear, and then as they deepen into rich greens, lush and mature by summer’s end. And won’t this be a blaze of colour in the fall!
It’s here in the woods that my mind starts writing a new novel. Or a story. Or thinks about works in progress. What has to happen next? How does that story end anyway? Middles are the worst! Getting over those humps…The ideas begin to flow, and visions of a shiny new book, published, with a cover and everything, is on a shelf in a bookstore, surrounded by a luminescent white cloud blurred at the edges, people picking it up and paying for it at the cash register.
And other thoughts filter through…something about a walk clears the head and bigger pictures appear, things that matter come to the forefront, resolutions and revelations…I thought, that as long as one listens to their heart and follows it, the rest will always fall into place. Like finding these woods. A new contentedness is growing inside me, with love as the grounding force.
We only left the woods when we were good and ready to. And on the loveliest street home, I stumbled upon a “Little Free Library”. A pine box with a glass door sitting at eye level on a post. “take a book, leave a book”….so I took Margaret Atwood’s Oryk and Crake. Now I need to go back tomorrow and drop one off. How perfect.
So imagine that. This piece of paradise right in the middle of a city. It wasn’t uncommon these days – cities ARE becoming more and more conscious of greening their spaces for a more human friendly environment. But I think finding this wooded area makes me feel like I don’t have to be sad about leaving my country home behind. The whole planet has wonderful, beautiful places, little hideaways and niches, open skies and open plains, forests as thick or as thin as you want, bodies of water as small or as vast… If we call the earth our home, we can be happy anywhere. We don’t have to own a piece of it, we can be in it, fully, anytime we want.
Paradise is the love in your heart, and the beauty you see in ordinary life, in ordinary surroundings. This patch of woods may as well have been in Muskoka, or back in Georgian Bay, it was so very ordinary. Fabulously ordinary.
My fitbit tells me I’ve walked my 10,000 steps today. For the first time! How “fitting”. haha. I got a badge for going to the woods today. And Molly got a really yummy chewy.