Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
- Rabindranath Tagore
What a strange year it’s been. Between the unprecedented heat, smoke-filled skies, and fears of the new COVID variants, I found myself reluctant to leave the house. The entire summer passed me by, without so much as a trip to the beach. I made good use of my time, writing and submitting here and there, but I longed to feel the weight of my camera in my hand, craved the earthy scent of deep woods.
Early September brought cooler temperatures. Periods of much needed rain helped quell the forest fires and freshen the air. It was time. After a miserable summer of working outdoors in unfavourable conditions, Santana was ready for a day out as well.
Off we went.
The day was overcast, but I didn’t mind. Colours tend to wash out in bright sunlight, cloud cover gives them vibrancy. Choosing a direction required careful thought. With so many forests fires burning, I wanted to be sure we didn’t head in a direction that would lead to a dead end, dangerous conditions, or unbreathable air.
Beaver Lake Resort, high in the hills above Winfield, was the direction I chose. From there, there are dozens of small lakes with names like Doreen, Dee, and Alex. There is a multitude of recreational sites, and Forestry Service Roads splay like nerves across the landscape.
We stopped briefly at Beaver Lake, took a seat on the wooden porch swing, and watched a yellow pine chipmunk nibble snacks on the bricks of the firepit. He was unconcerned with our presence, and I imagined him joining families on the beach in the evening, saying, “I don’t want a hot dog, thanks, but I’d love a marshmallow.”
Santana and I had been on this road before, last September, but this time, we decided to try something different. Pulling the backroads map book from its place in the back seat, Santana began to chart a new path. This is his joy. While I stop to take pictures of grouse
Santana navigates new roads for us to try.
After connecting several unmarked roads, we ended up on the Goat Mountain Forestry Service Road.
At times the road looked like a lane leading to an English cottage, and other times a dim path through a haunted forest. It wound and climbed, dropped, and turned. Aspen leaves shivered silver in the breeze.
We were in no hurry. Good thing, too, as the road got sketchy in places. With only room for one vehicle and nowhere to pull over to let another car by, I wondered what we would do if we encountered other people. I was a little worried, too, about getting a flat tire. There had been no cell service for hours, and the map book was the only thing to guide us. I did my best to avoid sharp stones on the road and hoped for the best.
I was having a wonderful time.
As per usual, from the moment we entered the forest, the stereo went off and the windows came down. We saw plenty of small wildlife, rabbit, chipmunks, pheasant, and mice, but surprisingly, nothing larger. I love to see wildlife, but it doesn’t detract from the joy of the journey if I don’t. There are always flowers,
and hidden ponds.
We talked as we drove, about politics, the environment – about the past and the future, our dreams and desires. I’m always grateful for those little moments.
I started this entry with a quote from Rabindranath Tagore, the Bard of Bengal. To me, its about perspective, and how it changes with age. I consider myself to be at the best age—old enough to have opinions, and young enough to change them. I am willing to adjust the framework through which I view life, to welcome new concepts into the picture. Sometimes, when things are not at their finest, I need a different view altogether.