This was written in July 2008. I'm posting it as a reminder of the importance of seeking out experiences that help us to connect with life.
I was reminded today of one of the reasons I like running so much -- because it occasionally encourages me to go exploring, looking for unexpected and beautiful places nearby.
We're having our first relatively cool day in Ottawa in some time -- only 22 degrees. Because it was so fresh this morning, I decided it was a good day to go for a long run and check out the dirt track I'd noticed heading into the green space beneath the hydo poles a kilometre or so from our house.
An inspired notion as it turned out. Just a short way down the trail, the sounds of the city were a distant hum and I felt as if I was deep in the country - surrounded by riotous yellow, pink and purple wildflowers, colourful dragonflies flying in close formation beside and in front of me. Passing small woods and bushes, I caught glimpses of cardinals and other birds disturbed (momentarily) by my passing. I breathed in the sweet smell of fresh air wafting from the plants and trees around me.
After a couple of kilometres, the trail became a narrow track, then disappeared altogether where it met two sets of train tracks, which I followed for a short while before coming to another lightly travelled road. Pausing to catch my breath at a fence separating the tracks from the road, I was treated to the sight of a freight train as it passed by, the engineer cheerfully waving hello.
A short way down the road, I spotted a somewhat overgrown dogwalking trail that appeared to lead riverward, so I followed it for a kilometre or two as it wound through fields filled with hip-high grasses and wildflowers, and damp woodland offering a reprieve from the hot sun that was occasionally breaking through the clouds.
Eventually, the path took me to and then along grassy riverbanks, across a narrow bog -- where my feet were kept dry by an assortment of rocks and wood planks laid there by previous walkers -- and through more woodland until finally I reached a cheerful grassy spot beside the river furnished with an assortment of (apparently) donated chairs and benches. An elderly gentleman and his dog resting there helpfully directed me to a nearby residential street from where I turned homeward.
Plodding the last few kilometres to our house along busy urban roadways, I meditated on the breathtaking beauty I'd just witnessed, and how lucky I was to have the time, energy and good health to run. Here's hoping there are many more such adventures in my future!