Sunday, July 30, 2006
One of the things I like best about our city is its parks and nature trails. The city website says there are more than 600 parks and greenbelts, birdwatching, nature walks and bike trails all over this second largest city in BC. Although I don't get to go to parks as often as I did when we were new to Canada, I still marvel at the natural beauty we are fortunate to live in.
I have two favourite parks and one of them is the Green Timbers Urban Forest. Every time I go to this place, I am amazed that a forest can sit right in the heart of residential and commercial areas. This is a big chunk of land, one sq. mi. I think, complete with a lake, wetlands, meadows and some 20 hiking trails. Green Timbers is the birthplace of reforestation in BC and the public, on a number of referendums, have voted to protect it. Very wise.
Inside the park, you forget you are in a bustling city. You hardly hear any city noise. You hear birds and the sound of your own breath and footsteps when you are hiking. Sometimes the silence is deafening.
I enjoy walking on the trails, but I will probably never go by myself because of coyote sightings in the past. I guess there would be snakes too. Yikes! And if you are a woman, you might think twice about going into the forest near dusk. The picture above is just the entrance to the park. Inside the forest, the trails are narrow and meandering, sometimes criss-crossing each other. And you walk underneath tall trees that block the sunlight. The undergrowth is thick. You don't want to stay away from the trails. You shouldn't.
I have not heard any bad news of wildlife or human attacks happening in Green Timbers. Still, I prefer to stay on the safe side. Besides, my imagination sometimes gets the better of me, and I might scream at the sight of a lizard. I remember once getting startled by an oncoming biker who suddenly appeared from a bend. I shrieked, thinking it was a hunk of a bear. He could have been the hunk Lance Armstrong, alright, but at that moment, who cares?
Yesterday, we decided to go to Green Timbers at around 5 pm. Markus was reluctant to go because he was playing on the computer.
"What are we going to do there, Mom? Just walk? It's gonna be boring," he whined. He didn't want to go without Gabriel who was at a birthday party.
"It's good to walk rather than just stay in the house and play on the computer," I replied.
He was moping and fussing all the way to the park, which was about a three-minute drive from our house and just across his school.
"Are we going fishing?" he asked, still in a foul mood.
"No, we don't have a license. Besides, we don't have a rod," I answered. They went fishing here about 5 years ago, but never caught a fish because they were quite impatient and kept pulling up the line.
When we reached the lake and saw the ducks, Markus started to loosen up. He walked in ankle-deep water.
Later we walked into the forest just far enough to get some good shots. Markus preferred to walk under the bushes, not on the regular trail, and have his own adventure. He found a stick which I said was a good weapon against coyotes.
"Hold on to that," I told him. "I can use that to scare off coyotes."
"Why does it have to be you?" he asked. "I can beat the coyote with this."
"You are still little. I will hold it off while you run," I said, pretending to be brave.
Just then he started flinging the stick. "This is how I will do it," Markus kept going around. He displayed his moves. Watch out, you coyotes! Markus is gonna get you.
Going back to our car, we passed through the meadows because Markus wanted to explore a less traveled path. He was running and rolling on the ground like a dog unleashed. I chuckled.
I think we should have more trips to the park and have more times of unleashing.