I love to walk. In the city I walked to work. To the market. To the library. For decades, most anywhere I needed to go – I could walk. If I didn’t get a good walk – my day wasn’t right.
I love to walk in the country too. When I lived the in the city I would seek out wooded areas to walk – many times with just the company of my dog. Any time of the year.
“Aren’t you afraid?” people would ask. And seriously, I wasn’t. Oh, you would hear about the occasional bear in Gatineau Park. But it seemed to me that you would always encounter hikers or even those annoying park wardens checking if your dog was onleash. I dreamed about the time I could just open my door and be out in the woods and not be worried about a ticket from one of those guys.
And now here I am. Three hundred and eleven acres of our own woods.
Except. Now I get scared.
Maybe it is an age thing. Maybe because I have seen pictures and tracks of all the wildlife that live here.
But mostly it is Abby’s fault.
My trusty pup, gets wide-eyed and very alert as we make our way through our trails. She is a border collie and cautious, just like me. (Some people even suggest we look alike – in a kind way of course.) And she has great hearing – just like me. So she is always stopping and listening. Mostly it is the wind. There are many branches that pop and crack this time of year. I tell her that – in a loud and assertive voice – just like the book says. Don’t want to startle the residents. They were here first, after all.
The most disconcerting thing is her nose. This was a dog brought up on sidewalk smells. She could track a path to the Rideau Bakery like nobody’s business.
But now, she follows a scent.. and voila… a great big pile of moose poop. (Experienced woodspeople call it scat, I know).
And sometimes, when she smells, she gives me a look that says: “Let’s get out of here. Now. Seriously.”
The romantic version of life in the country is that you can go on idyllic walks with your partner for life. Two things about that: he’s mostly building our house during daylight hours; and his version of walking includes talking a lot about what pond will go here, and fence will go there. He is also tracking trails and way points on our GPS for our forest management plan. To him, a walk is work. That kind of walk is nice. And I like it too. But all those years of solitary walking has spoiled me for that hour or so of just being.
I am pretty sure it will get easier. When we first moved up here I found it a bit scary to go outside at night alone. It is one of the darkest places in Ontario. And most of the animals here wander around at night. I have gotten over that.
Mostly because it is so amazingly, breathtakingly beautiful.
And because I love to walk