A Little Wanderlust.

Here are some of my thoughts and pictures from a long walk I took in Winnipeg, last Saturday.  Hope you enjoy…

~ Carina Spring

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In my last post, I announced that my blog’s technical troubles were finally resolved.  Turns out that my celebrations were, um… premature. Yes, after my gleeful announcement, I joyfully pressed “publish”, and soon realized that the email was not getting delivered to subscribers’ mailboxes.  Every time one problem gets resolved, another one pops up!

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Honestly, autumn has brought a few challenges with it, and not just with my blog.  When I stumbled on these words, yesterday, the mindset struck me as helpful:

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.  Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills.  Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”

~ Jim Rohn

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Anyhow, on Saturday, when I went for a long-overdue haircut, I decided to walk home.  I have been going to the same hairdresser for 15 years.  Her salon is downtown, a fair few kilometres from my home, and in a different neighbourhood.  It was a gorgeous day.  Without thinking much about it, after my haircut, I strolled into the fresh air and started my walk.  It took several hours to get home, though I don’t know exactly how long, because I didn’t pay much attention to the time.

The sun was in my eyes and I carried my big purse over my shoulder, and I felt kind of free: no plans, no car.

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By the time I got home, around 5:00 pm, I’d taken a bunch of snapshots with my cell phone (those are the pictures in today’s post), and I’d accepted a friend’s spontaneous dinner invitation for 6:00 pm.

Hiking, even the urban kind, can be so relaxing. There is something therapeutic about walking by yourself, for hours, like a tourist in your own city.  Now, I feel a vague kind of wanderlust.  Like I want to wander. Everywhere.  Even if it’s only around here.

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When I was in my late teens, I figured life out by running  kilometres and kilometres at a time.  In those runs I found my strength, and I figured out that life was short, and that it all comes down to the present moment.  I think walks like this one are another way for me to better understand life.

Here are a few more snapshots that I took with my cell phone, if you’d like to see what Winnipeg looked like, from my perspective, last Saturday.  It’s a pretty diverse place.

If you enjoyed the post, please feel free to subscribe (see the menu box at the top).  Thanks for the visit!

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A Walk with A Stranger, and The Bizarre Story of Good Memories from A Bad Evening

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After my walk with a stranger, I saw this huge caterpillar, and decided to bring out my cell-phone and take some snapshots.

I had an unusual experience last Saturday morning, When I went for a walk.

Just as I entered the park, I saw a woman, probably in her late 50’s, walking a little, white dog.   I casually commented that her dog was cute, when – much to my surprise – the woman began to tear up.  Apologizing, she explained that tomorrow would be 8 weeks since her husband had died of cancer.

Trees at St.Vital Park in September, in Winnipeg.
Trees in the park on a September day in Winnipeg.

I really felt badly for her.  I lost an aunt to cancer a year and a half ago, so I have some understanding of just how hard the whole experience can be.  I gave her a hug, and we started to stroll together.  Wound up doing a lap of the whole park. Mostly, I just listened.

When our walk was done, I felt good that I was able to lend a friendly ear to someone who needed it.  It got me thinking about how acts of kindness really do make both the receiver and the giver feel better.  Actually, this unexpected walk with a stranger also got me thinking about a remarkble experience that happened to my family, years ago.

imageI used to live in the city of Edmonton, Alberta.  One evening, my mom, grandma, brother, and cousin were on their way home after a day-trip to Drayton Valley, when they were rear-ended by a distracted driver on the highway. My mom’s car was a total write-off.  The policemen said how incredible it was that no one had been injured.

The accident occurred in front of a campground about 200 km from Edmonton, so my mom called my oldest brother to ask if he could come and give them a ride back home.  He immediately went to pick them up.

But.

He was a student at the time, driving an older vehicle and – shortly after picking everyone up – his car broke down.  What an evening, right?

Now, it was past 11:00 p.m.  This was the age before cell phones, so my family stood stranded by the side of the road, assessing the unfortunate circumstance in which they found themselves.

That’s when a young farmer stopped to help. He drove my family back to the city, more than an hour and a half in one direction (never mind that he still had to drive all the way back to his farm).  When my mother offered to pay him for his troubles, or at least for the gas, he refused to accept.  No, he said.  Pay it forward.  Help someone who needs your help in the future.

That is not the end of the story.

When the accident occurred, my mom’s car got towed away. In the stress of the moment, my mom wound up abandoning a bunch of the stuff that was in her car.  Some of these items were kind of valuable, like tools.

The following week, my mom and her best friend returned to the site of the accident, in the hopes of recovering some of the items. My mom entered the campground, and asked around a bit, just in case.  Turns out there were a number of seasonal workers who were living in the campground while they worked in Drayton Valley for the summer.  Everyone was so nice.  They had collected all of her belongings and, expecting that she might come back, had stored everything neatly under a tarp.

And there’s yet another twist.  On this trip, my mom had been driving a rental car provided by the insurance company.  Believe it or not, it also broke down while they were out there! Seriously!  It had to be towed, but, fortunately, the rental agency had an outlet in Drayton Valley, and my mom and her friend were able to get a replacement vehicle right away.

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What a strange experience, don’t you think?  Such a bitter-sweet combination.  They had a terrible accident, but, miraculously, no one was hurt. Every car that went out there had to be towed away!   Yet, the kindness of strangers transformed the memories of this negative experience into ones that are warm, and rather positive.

There is something very touching, even powerful, about an act of kindness from a stranger – extended without the hope of any retribution.

Sometimes, it can even be simple gestures that make a difference: being patient and present for others, or smiling at someone whom you sense might be feeling alone.

Kindness has a way of coming back to you in mysterious and beautiful ways, and studies show that helping others increases our own happiness.  It has a way of restoring hope, not only in the receiver, but also in the giver.

I am not sure why, but when I was done this walk, I knew it was time to start blogging again.  I am excited to be here, and I look forward to sharing the simple, everyday adventures that challenge, comfort, and enrich.

By the way, after I said goodbye to the woman last Saturday, I decided to do another lap of the park.   This time, for me.  I’d had a stressful week, and needed to process it so that I would have more energy to give to my family and my work.  Even though I had not planned on it, during that second lap of the park, I took a few snapshots with my cell phone.  Those are the pictures in today’s post, in case you wanted to see what one of Winnipeg’s city parks looks like.

Oh, just thought of one more thing!  While we are speaking of the kindness of strangers, have you heard this story of a life-changing phone call?  Not exactly light-hearted, but it gave me goose-bumps.

A caterpillar in St.Vital Park in autumn

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Thanks for stopping by!  If you enjoyed reading,  please feel free to subscribe. (See the menu box above).

Where Do You Go?

For me, there is something captivating, even comforting about migration.  Even though my life on the ground may have changed over the year – I’ve lost loved ones, my father is in palliative care – in the spring, the birds return.  And while it does not make the losses easier, there is a serene kind of solace found in the predictable beauty of the cycles of nature.

Depending on the conditions of their geographical location, some Golden Eagles migrate, and some do not.
Depending on the conditions of their geographical location, some Golden Eagles migrate, and some do not.

The arrival of the migrating animals after their long journey exemplifies courage, and life’s triumph over adversity.   We look up and welcome the geese, not only as a sign of the changing seasons and spring’s renewal, but simultaneously as a symbol of perseverance, and life’s constancy.

A family of geese

That’s the thing about migration – it heralds change, but also continuity.  It is a process that transcends our existence here on earth: Migration was here before us, and continues without us. Just like when children grow, they make us more aware of the passage of time, migrations orient us to the seasons of life and create a sense of connection between the passing years.

There is something so worthwhile, so healthy about pausing, and remembering the processes in nature that transcend our own lifespans

Alicia and Neil’s Photography

Migration also reminds us of unseen bonds that connect us to other parts of the planet. We share something beyond ourselves; We share a living species that calls both of our lands home.

“Where Is Your Home, Restless Wings?”

In the modern era, it is harder for us to grasp the magic of migration.  We have developed the remarkable technology to connect with almost anyone, anywhere, instantly, but in so doing may be forgetting a time in recent history when distant lands were still mysterious, and the world felt much bigger.  Less than a century ago, simply receiving a letter from a different part of the world was an exciting event.  In some ways, migrating animals are like living, timeless emblems from distant lands; messengers reminding us of an intricate connection with people we will never meet, and places we might never see.

Reader Julia shared this picture of a beautiful Monarch, know for its epic migration.
Reader Julia shared this picture of a beautiful Monarch, known for its epic migration.

And just as I finished writing these reflections, the world outside my window was transformed over night by a fluffy snowfall, and the words on this post are now a farewell to fall.

How wonderful that the timeless truths of nature are right at our doorstep, and the simple act of stepping outside and looking at the sky can help us find comfort and perspective in our modern, everyday lives.

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A beautiful Mountain Blue Bird:  Alicia and Neil’s Photography

Unless otherwise indicated, all of today’s photos are from Alicia and Neil’s Photography.

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Last winter, I heard this song for the first time.  This song may have helped inspire this post.  I have to add that I love this band, and they seem to share my poetic obsession with birds.

Would you like to learn more?  Here are some links to organizations that are working hard to preserve habitat so that life on earth can stay diverse, and migrating animals can persevere.  Every bit we do helps, and these organizations are making a real difference.

World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund International

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Sign a petition to protect Caribou habitat or  Learn more about CPAWS

Thank you for stopping by!

High Winds

Okay, when I decided on the phrase “Everyday Adventures at Home… Hurrah”, I had in mind some pretty safe adventures; looking at and living life creatively and openly – not adrenaline thrills.  This Saturday, though, I found myself on more of an adventure than I had expected.

It was the last sail of the season – the day when we sail the boat for a couple of hours, from the marina where we keep the sailboat for the summer, to the marina where the boat gets hauled out of the water and stored for the winter.

I’ll admit that, unlike my husband, I am not a natural sailor. I am an active person – I love walking, swimming, and bike riding – but a rather passive sailor.  Maybe that makes me more of a ‘passenger’?  I enjoy sailing as a unique way to connect with nature, for relaxation and fun.

We’ve had our boat for about 6 years. At 22 feet, it is not a huge boat, and one can certainly feel the motion of the water and wind around it.

So, Saturday’s sail started out well enough. Quite promising – a sunny, warm day. It was windy, just enough to keep a quick pace (or so we thought). As we headed out (my husband, a family friend, my son and I), it looked something like this…

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Lovely, right?

Well, it turns out the winds soon grew stronger, at points at least 70 km per hour, with the waves becoming frighteningly high, and jarringly choppy. The boat was leaning sharply, getting slammed every which way.  It was hard to control, and we were getting splashed as the cold water crashed against the deck. All this made it difficult, and dangerous to balance on the bow of the boat in order to raise the sail, and the fabric ripped with the force of the wind, though it was still intact enough to move us forward.

We have been in large waves before, but they were gentle, rolling waves.  Kind of lulling.  Saturday’s waves were sharp, driven by a hard wind, repeatedly lifting us up high and crashing us down.  It was the first time that I was seriously worried that we might come to harm.

Fortunately, between my husband, and a good friend of ours (who often joins us on sails), we managed to reach our destination, unharmed.  My husband took the helm, both literally by steering the rudder, and figuratively by directing our efforts.  Our friend worked the sails and GPS.   My 12 year old son and I helped by being an extra pair of hands – holding the GPS, passing ropes and ties.  Most importantly, we tried to stay calm.

I did manage to take a few, very quick snapshots in between the really scary waves. They were all taken from the same vantage point – I didn’t move – so the horizon changes in the pictures because the water was swelling, and we were rising and dropping, very fast.

Honestly, these pics do not capture the size of the waves, nor how violently they were tossing the boat around. Nor the shrill hisses and howls the wind produced. Nor the deep, straining groans of the wood, as heard from the hull (where I spent a lot of time, both to stay out of the way and to hold on for dear life). I braced myself with my legs and took these quick snapshots from the doorway that goes below deck.

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These pictures were taken from the doorway going down below deck. The boat was slamming up and down fast, with strong winds making it hard to maneuver.

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From a wave this high (above) to a wave that low (below) in what felt like one second, repeated again and again…

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Eventually, we had to insist that my son come down into the hull with me, though he wanted to be out on deck where he felt safer.  He was getting wet, and we didn’t want to chance him falling in the water.  I was more worried for him than for us throughout the ordeal.

Toward the end of the trip, as we struggled to get the sail down, wind flailing it violently, we saw the coastguard heading out to make sure we were okay. I actually felt immense relief. Even though we managed without their help, it was such a reassuring sight. I was grateful to all those brave souls in professions that risk themselves to help others.

By the time we arrived at the harbour, the wind was howling so strongly that it was hard even to walk on the dock. The boats parked in the marina were rocking, some of their cables flying lose in the wind.

In the end, I am happy to report that we are all safe and sound. I don’t exactly regret the escapade, either.  I’ve learned some lessons, and it stretched us, brought out our courage, and tested us. If one sails, I suppose one has to be prepared to accept high winds and learn how to handle them. Some people thrive on that excitement.  Not me.  While I like to step outside of my comfort zone by learning new things or being outdoors, I definitely don’t need that much danger to feel alive.

Still, the unexpected happens.  We had to accept the situation and just do the best we could with the experience we had. My husband had been in a thunderstorm once when he was training to sail, so it was some comfort to know that this was not his first experience with very challenging conditions.  I guess one is bound to encounter difficult weather sometimes, in sailing as in life.  I am really proud of us for pulling through this one.

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Safe at port.

“If we are strong, and have faith in life, and its richness of surprises, and hold the rudder steadily in our hands, I am sure we will sail into quiet and pleasant waters…”

Freya Stark – Brainy Quote

Sweet Summer Winds Are What I’ll Remember Most.

Post by Carina Spring.

Stand By For The Weather…

“By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.”

Helen Hunt Jackson

This is the last weekend of the summer, and what a send off. We couldn’t have asked for a more radiant Saturday.

I went for a bike ride to enjoy this beautiful Saturday. Birds gathering to migrate, colourful trees, unbelievably blue skies.

We were so lucky this summer.  The weather here was wonderful – lots of sunny, hot spells and soft breezes – basically, the kind of weather I love most.  I mean really, really love.  (Honestly, the air conditioner doesn’t get much use around our home).

Even when it rained, the storms lasted only a few hours, maybe a day or two, and then we were back to heat and sunshine for a good stretch of time.   The thing that was strange, though, is that the storms we did have seemed to be so powerful.

We had very few ‘soft summer rains’.

So, while most of the days were like this…

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the storms that came and went were electrically charged, with strong winds, and  heavy rains belting down rather fiercely.  You could see plenty of evidence of these powerful storms in the lake region near Winnipeg: Felled trees and branches throughout the area.  Parts of the main beach at Winnipeg Beach were closed off for the whole season due to the damage.

Strong storms causing damage in the Interlake Region.
A common sight this summer – strong storms causing damage in the Interlake Region.

In fact, one afternoon out at the lake, when we were inside, a crack of thunder pierced the air so loudly that I froze (ears covered- ouch). It seemed to keep on going… a white light iluminating the whole room while the force of the sound seemed to rattle everything.

When the storm was over, we went outside to see what had happened.  Remarkably, there wasn’t any significant damage. None!  Yet the lightning must have struck extremely close.  We thought for sure we would find a charred tree outside the door!

 

A reader, Julia, shared with me this pictures of a stormy morning out by lake Winnipeg.
A reader, Julia, took this picture when she was out for a walk by Lake Winnipeg on a stormy morning..

There have even been several tornadoes in the province (…not entirely unusual in the prairies).  One funnel cloud touched down in southwestern Manitoba for around three hours.  Now that is rare.  In Canada, funnel clouds normally only touch down for a few minutes, at most.   The tornado lashed trees, farmlands, and roads.  Miraculously, despite its duration, it did not go through any towns or cities, and caused no major injuries.

We also had a funnel cloud touch down near Winnipeg Beach.  They call it a waterspout when a tornado happens on the water. This one also briefly made it’s way to land.  Again, thankfully, no one was hurt and there was only minimal damage.

I am so glad that there were no major injuries caused by the severe weather, though the trend is worrisome.

Have you experienced any extreme weather in your area?

When I look back on summer 2015, though, soft warm winds are what I will remember most.

One spring day, four colourful, huge kites were dancing in the soft wind, against a radiant blue sky.
One spring day, four colourful, huge kites were dancing in the soft wind, against a radiant blue sky.

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

Summer’s Ghost

 “We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming.  We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are.  They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse.  But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”

Gary Zukav

Welcome back!  Hope you have all had a wonderful summer.  I have missed you, and I have missed blogging for the last long while… Looking forward to catching up.  I have a lot to share, and despite of the fact that the months ahead will be very busy for me, it is the season to get back into regular writing.  I can hardly believe that we are almost at mid-September, but (I think) I am finally embracing the idea of autumn and its routine (maybe).

July and August of 2015 are now behind us, and when all is said and done, I look back on a special summer.  Many out-of-town guests, one road trip to Alberta, a brief stay at the mountains, some time at home, time at the lake. That is the synopsis that describes my summer, but hardly captures it.

It was not a perfect or bump-less summer (literally… I recently suffered a mild concussion.  Please don’t worry, though, I am much better already).  But there were so many beautiful moments – and I am glad that I remembered to notice.

Northern lights, a big round moon, the stars. Fireworks.  Hot days spent swimming in cold water, cool evenings spent by the campfire.  Farm fields, trees, birds.  Mountain lakes.  Laughter, family and friends.  Aaaah.

I miss summer already… and I have lots of stories to tell, but I won’t try to relate my whole summer in one post.

Swimming off one of the many charming public piers. The picture taken at Winnipeg Beach by Julia, a reader.
One of the many charming public piers around Lake Winnipeg. Picture sent in by a reader, Julia.

Hopefully, some of the experiences and thoughts that I’ve been wanting to share with you will find their way into my blog posts in the months to come.  As I’ve heard it said, “In September, we know we’ll welcome summer’s ghost.”

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

John Lubbock

A serene moment on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, image captured by reader Julia.
A serene moment on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, captured on camera by reader Julia.