“ I can breathe where there is green. Green grows hope. It keeps my heart beating and helps me remember who I am.” – Courtney M. Privett, Faelost
Glancing out the bedroom window overlooking the alleyway, I was struck by the image of two women, walking separately, both tethered to their cell phones, heads down – connected, as defined by 21st century living and a thought occurred to me, connected to what? To work, the endless feeds that distract us, or more hopefully, loved ones – I could also see nature unfolding all around as my eyes alighted upon fully leafed trees eager to share their lullabies on the faint breeze, shading shiny young crows learning how to forage, their crimson throats calling out to the adults when a grub or two was unearthed, as the scent of freshly mown grass filled our nostrils with the promise of endless summer.
Gentle reminders after too many days away from nature myself, prompting me to pack a lunch and head into the park ahead of the second heat wave of a season still clinging to spring. Our favourite spot at the Urban Forest Café (known in the off-season as the Railway Café) is always cool, hidden from the main pathways behind a screen of tangled green. After ordering some freshly cooked fries from an always friendly Travis, we settled under an umbrella at a weathered picnic table to enjoy our al fresco lunch. The peaceful trail we love to walk on is still only open on the weekends so we took advantage hoping to do some foraging for dessert. As we approached an area known for its abundance of salmon berries, it looked like other dessert hunters had been there before us until we came across a patch of juicy jewel-like orange berries glistening in the sun. The berries were at their peak, falling into our hands with just a slight touch. After we ate our fill, it was time to make my way home and Terry to his beloved hill at the edge of the forest.
Spending time in nature is like rediscovering paradise, igniting a thirst which has led me to this wooden bench at Barclay Square (here in the West End) underneath a towering green canopy, listening to the sweet sounds of live jazz at the annual Strawberry Festival after indulging in a bowl of scarlet strawberries topped with a scoop of still-cold vanilla ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream on a bed of golden shortcake. There is a wonderful sense of community here, I often run into good friends and neighbours among the leafy shadows in between the stately older homes flanking the flagstones and grass. One of many beautiful summer rituals, summer’s own green heart helps the lost and distracted find a corner of paradise, raining down words for anyone to capture, the taste of strawberries still on my tongue!