I started walking daily at the river, once prompted by a friend. I remember this friend in the same ways that I remember the pond, where I had for six years, taken respite from the world, from work and from my worries. I circled the same still water and watched its changes, daily…apart from a very few days when the roads were too icy on the hill to make it there OR when I drove to Ontario to visit my mother…or to be with my loved ones when they celebrated her life.
I became a new person at the pond. I became a soldier for sustainability there. I became an observer of what human beings have become, in the order of dismissing their responsibilities to the earth. My sadness grew exponentially over those years as I communicated with management and staff in many big businesses that surrounded the area, scrolled through sustainability reports, became an activist with the City of Calgary, and talked about nothing more than what was happening in this single ecosystem. I picked litter…garbage…most days, filling and depositing bags and bags of human filth by the one bin that remained…”$13 dollars a bin to empty”, the city worker chimed in one day when I asked him, “What is going on with our city?” He explained that it is a vision for the city that people will learn to take their litter out with them…”much cheaper”. I sighed. That was when I began to lose it. I was crying during my walks, instead of taking in the bliss of the Mergansers, the Pintails, the Coots and Grebes.
Arriving home to upload my photographs, I would notice for the first time, plastic bags lying on the slopes as Black Capped Night Herons fed. I’d notice a 2L plastic bottle as a backdrop to the beautiful gesture of a Great Blue Heron. The evidence of our thoughtlessness was in my face daily.
I left the pond about a year ago and came to the edge of the Bow River. I’m still questioned about why the redundant act of circling the same location. To that, I can only say that by returning again and again to the same place, one really comes to know it…much like being with one person every single day. I really come to know this place in all sorts of weather and in all sorts of moods. I notice. I observe change and transition and presence with a keen eye. New is easy to see. I never see the same thing. And, while there are still signs of human carelessness, I do not directly see the road development, hear the machines or feel wholly responsible to clean up other people’s mess.
I feel as though I am walking in the middle of a Clea Roberts poem when I am at the river…and that is a beautiful place to be.
Please, if you can, read Clea Robert’s poem, The Forest, from Auguries. Perhaps then, my readers will understand why I come to this same place. Blessings for a remarkable day.