“The only journey is the one within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, a weekend that was supposed to be awash in moody rain. Yesterday’s walk required an umbrella although I didn’t mind – the nearby ocean roared and the raindrops fell warmly making routine errands magical.
Today’s warmth and golden sunshine drew me on a walk towards a copse of lush woodland just down my street where a small group of yoga practitioners often meet to stretch near twisting thorn covered blackberry tendrils and underneath scarlet berries. There is a sense of the otherworldly as they gracefully move into the next pose below gently falling tawny leaves.
This was a day to savour and not knowing if the rain might return I decided to put off apartment chores to spend more time in the autumn light. I found myself at the edge of the Rose Garden with stunning blooms still reaching for the sun and a colourful swathe of fall dahlias. Amid a stand of fragrant cedars, the park’s excellent gardeners had created a fairy-like collection of small seats carved from a group of forgotten stumps. One seat was formed by a single smooth limb left attached to two stumps resembling a forest swing. I scrambled up on it and held on tight to both stumps and began to rock – and guess what? It actually felt like I was swinging! What a wonderful spot for a child or us to discover…
Lately, I’ve been exploring closer to home, wandering up and down newly named laneways on my afternoon walks. I found a hidden garden up one alleyway spanning almost a full block – I could see tomatoes of all sizes hanging on dark green vines, their pale skins waiting for the autumn sun and squash leaves winding through gaps in the fencing, a riotous harvest for tenants and strangers alike.
Just like that late summer fruit, I’ve been seeking light each time I step out into a world fraught with danger. Waiting until I reach the wide open spaces of the park after dancing between neighbours and visitors distracted by the pandemic that haunts our days and obscures the light – which is why we took the plunge and booked a few nights at our favourite retreat on Vancouver Island, giving us the chance to breathe deep, take in the sacred silence found there and revel in the mid-autumn light even if it’s just the flames dancing in the fireplace.
Our time spent in our woodland studio was like a dream – there were long walks through fern forest and by twisted trees near the Strait, their root systems laid bare by damp sand and erosion. Hundreds of leaves in colours of burnt orange, apricot and burgundy continually fell as we walked familiar trails often lit by a group or a lone golden-hued beauty. On cloudier outings these wondrous trees lit up the dark woods like the sun.
We woke to the haunting sound of calling ravens flying overhead most mornings, enjoying small plates of delicious food on offer in the welcoming lounge in the late afternoons as our days passed outside rain or shine. I sipped on dark red wine hailing from Spain and a bottle of that same wine purchased from our local wine store now sits on my kitchen counter, an elixir against November storms and the second wave of a pandemic seemingly spiraling out of control.
For the first time on the Island we walked beloved needle packed paths to the sound of the fall chorus of the Pacific Tree frog. In our urban forest haunts, this small creature is often a rare sighting – to hear them deep in the forest and at the edge of the ocean was an unexpected delight that makes me smile and helps to hold onto that unique Island vibe.
Returning home to the madding crowds after the friendly hellos and smiles from fellow walkers has been an unwelcome shock as well as the two week mini-lockdown that came into effect. Our now or never getaway taken at just the right time as non-essential travel is now restricted as our province tries to bend the curve once again.
Words travel and these ones certainly did as my trusty notebook was accidently left in the airporter/taxi as we made our way home! It arrived back this week by courier so you could read them here now…
This stunning view greeted us after an afternoon walk through the forest at Rathrevor Park near Parksville on Vancouver Island, B.C.
Autumn on Vancouver Island offered so much beauty, we couldn’t stop exploring.
The grey trunks just pop against the golden-hued trees throughout Rathrevor Park!