My birthday, well being, the great outdoors, and yes, the global health pandemic (Nov 25)
November 24th is my birthday! I woke up to a blustery day, was served coffee and cake in bed, sang to by various family members, then enjoyed a playful and invigorating walk along the beach at low tide. As the winds and rain swirled and poured down, I wondered about my plan to get out into the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands for trail maintenance on the Butterfly Trail that afternoon, with really only the wind as a significant factor for modifying the plan (it’s just not a good idea to be out in the forest during high winds). The wind calmed over the noon hour, so as we do on the island, we simply dressed for the weather and went out. My very good friend, Laurel, met me and my Love at the parking lot (no gathering!) with cake and a birthday hat and the three of us set out into the woods.
It felt a bit surreal as the sun started bursting through the clouds, casting deep shadows and glistening moss hanging from the trees. There is so much beauty in the forest! Nothing is perfect, yet everything is. This global health pandemic is so difficult for so many people in so many ways. Simply getting to be outside in a healthy space is so helpful for me. Being an Adopt-a-Trail lifts my spirits and enables me to engage with my community in ways that are both sociable and solitary. If I’m out raking with friends, there is a simple synergy that seems to permeate as we connect with one another and the forest that surrounds us. Sometimes we converse, sometimes we quietly rake with our own thoughts.
Wearing my high-vis GLT (Greenways Land Trust) Adopt-a-Trail vest lets other trail users know that I’m part of that program, and it seems to allow people to talk with me and ask questions about the trails and Greenways, which I’m happy to respond to. Sometimes people wonder why we rake trails in the forest, and the reason is so that people stay on the trails and the forest gets to keep being a forest. So while it may seem like raking the leaves is making the trail messier, the leaves and debris falling from all the trees makes it more difficult for the trail to absorb water, making big puddles that people try to walk around, thus creating wider trails and having less space for the forest to be forest.
A bonus to this particular day was the chance meeting of another friend, Libby, who was walking the Butterfly Trail with her partner. Libby worked at Greenways Land Trust when I first signed up to adopt the Butterfly Trail and she was the one who took me out for my orientation, teaching me about the natural flora and fauna of the forest, the invasive species to look out for, and the general magic of the place. LIbby is one of those humans who I don’t see often, but I always feel better after being in her presence. Today was no exception. And while our health orders restrict gathering and physically connecting ( I LOVE hugging my friends, so I am definitely missing that), we maintained our 2 metre distance, yet connected with shared energy and appreciation from where we were and that was lovely.
And because it was my birthday, I also got to eat donuts and cake! I ate a decadent custom birthday donut that my Love had specially made from BigFoot Donuts as we walked into the forest, and also got to eat delicious carrot birthday cake from Laurel on the trail! My loved ones warm my heart in the ways that they rally around me to help enhance the community we live in and love.