Resuming walks on the Alouette Dike

Weather and business. Great excuses. I haven’t been out walking for a long time. Christmas, though, came with some beautiful weather. There was actually some sunshine.

Non-sequitur: I jumped on the bathroom scale. Oops! Christmas baking gain! I kicked the bathroom scale. It has the nerve not to be lying. Five pounds last year. Five pounds this year. Time to go do something about it.

Midday on Boxing day, it was two degrees above, Celsius.   I put on my Winnipeg parka with fur-trimmed hood and plenty of fluffy down. I zipped on my warm winter boots. I found my gloves with lambskin lining that I purchased when I went to Ottawa to see Hugh for Christmas two years ago.

Non-sequitur #2 : Hugh has his Masters. Whoopee! 93% average. Good going Hugh!

I picked up my house and car keys; set the house alarm; exited North; got in the car; drove down the hill and into a bank of fog, to the Alouette Dikes.

There is an eerie beauty in fog. I took lots of pictures. It only slightly detracts from the walking exercise. Well, maybe a bit more than slightly, but if  I didn’t have the camera along, I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to go.

I am going to have to go walking more than once if I am to have any effect on my winter waistline. I will also have to go to the gym. Regularly. Rats!

Sunday, the day after Boxing Day (that’s today), I went back to the dike. There was a full winter sun flooding the marshlands. The winter grasses were crisp and precise.  In places, the river and ponds have frozen over. In others, the water is still beautifully liquid, absolutely unruffled, still,  clear and reflective. Two days. Two widely varied landscape conditions.

The fog obscures things. It takes away the non-essentials. When I photograph a tree, that’s all there is – the winter skeleton, bare and lacy. The details elsewhere are not necessary. The object blurs. The background unifies; or you might say that it has dropped off the edge of the continent. It’s gone.

In the sunshine, every leaf, every twig, every tree trunk shines with a golden self-importance. The shadows are long.

On Boxing day, there were a lot of people out walking with their mates,  their children, their friends.  Dogs are pulling on leashes or running after fluorescent coloured tennis balls. Hardy souls are running for their lives. Some are pumping away on their bicycles, weaving in and out amongst the throng of walkers. New cameras and field glasses abound.

A group of twenty-somethings came towards me just as I was listening to a most beautiful sound: Ice that coated the twigs was beginning to crack and melt. It was like a whispering of bells. No! That doesn’t quite describe it. It was like the tinkling of wind in a distant crystal chandelier, faint and delicate.

“Listen, ” I entreat them. It is a fragile innocent sound.

“Oh, it’s just the ice melting off the tree,” says one annoyed young man, satisfied to have explained it satisfactorily. He moved on, calling “Come on, guys, let’s go!” He was missing an essential element of wonder.

The group went forward taking only seconds to reinstate their happy chatter, drowning out the miracle of crackling ice on tiny twigs. Two girls lagged a bit, still stretching their ears towards the delicate sound.

Today, the only sound of note was by the big lagoon, frozen over, skittering like a bird with a high pitched call as three children threw stones across the new drum of ice.  Today, there were scoters and bufflehead ducks in amongst the mallards, swimming together in a multicultural harmony. They are happy that the river mud has unfrozen and they can dive into this murky brown liquid to find edible treats. Their ducking and diving create patterns on the still-water surface.

I’ll post the sunny ones on the next post.


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4 Responses to “Resuming walks on the Alouette Dike”

  1. Doris Says:

    Love the photos especially only black bare branches – reminded me of your drawings.
    Also enjoyed the sounds of ice cracking on twigs and once again knowing that so many humans aren’t fully understanding what nature is gifting us.
    It was good to catch up with you. Didn’t look like you believed me when I told the story of the curator. It was true. I’m always true.
    It will be interesting to hear how things go in Fort Langley.
    Cheers – Doris

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hi Doris,
    Thanks for your comment. One has to be open with all one’s senses to appreciate fully the gift that nature is. It’s a wonderful state of being.

    As for our conversation Wednesday, I’ll talk to you about that off-line. And I’ll keep you posted on the Fort Langley venture.

  3. Stephen Says:

    Hey K
    This is some beautiful writing – what an ordinary and pleasant story into which you have introduced just a wisp of mystery – thanks.

    Perhaps it is the well rounded Christmas baking that is giving you freedom to write – (o:

    those melting twigs sound fascinating – I had a friend years ago who always used to bring up a word his english teacher had given them years before that – “tintinabulation” which he always said in a high pitched voice – “the ringing of tiny bells”

    All the best for your winter – 2 degrees above is very very cold in my book – S

  4. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hey Stephen,
    I think the Christmas baking made me round! I’m back to the gym. I’ll have to tell another gym story.
    It as so beautiful out, that day, and so different from the one after.
    It has warmed up here. All of mid-West and Eastern Canada is jealous when we tell them that the snowdrops, tulips, and daffodils are coming up. Witch Hazel is blooming and winter jasmine. It’s an exciting time of year – but back in the winter nether- lands of Canada, it’s cold and miserable, covered with snow.
    BTW, you might look up
    She posts such exquisite pictures, including some stunning winter imagery, that I know you will like it.

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