A Winter Hike

This winter in Vancouver is unlike most. It has been cold with occasional days of snow and ice and wind, which has canceled schools and caused dangerous travel. What’s up with that!? We’re supposed to be experiencing global warming, right? Well, we should know by now that global warming is a global phenomenon, where variable weather patterns exist locally but where overall, annual global temperatures continue to rise. Our cold winter results from a La Niña event. The cold weather and snow is, according to CBC: “All part of a bigger puzzle that has to do with melting Arctic ice, extreme ocean temperatures, a travelling polar vortex and a weird, roller-coaster-shaped jet stream.”

That’s all well and good. I was really in the mood for winter, mostly because I miss it. We generally get very mild temperatures here in the fall and winter, albeit with tons of rain.

We’ve snow-shoed around our house and hiked in Kamloops (the running is still on the treadmill, which is soulless, so there’s not much to comment upon there). But yesterday I took a long lunch and went on a 3-mile hike around the Deer Lake trails. It was great to get out, listen to music, and admire the nature. In a post I wrote months ago, I said I had seen two old men walking one of these very trails. They look like old naturalists and birders; well, they were out again yesterday. The first time I saw them last summer they were admiring a bird feather. It struck me the pure simplicity and beauty of being so moved by such a small thing, but to me, it is also exciting. Well, there the men were again yesterday, the older one using ski poles as walking sticks. They smiled, and I returned the gesture. It’s always very nice to see others on the trail–and in the dead of winter, to see anyone else at all was surprising.

The afternoon was sunny but very cold, the yellow of the sun softly highlighting the stark contrasts of the white lake and snow, the cobalt sky, the tiny brown seeds dispersed over the path, the tangled bare or evergreen branches weighted with snow. As I walked, I thought of the invasive knotweed and wondered where the endangered barn owls might be hiding. I reveled in the hike, the stretching of legs, the world away from the world.

I believe this is a black-capped chickadee, though its coloring looks darker here. It finally stayed out to forage seeds when I stood still for a while.
Snow-covered Deer Lake.
The trail was smoother walking than the sidewalks leading to the park. Thank you, Park Service!
A soft place.
A creek runs through it.
Stay awhile and listen.
Vulnerable shadows, sun behind trees. The sky forebodes of snow later.

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