Approximately three times a week, or more if possible, Jim and I go for a walk in a local park. Neither of us is particularly able to make cardio-vascular focused activity a goal, but the mental benefits of fresh air and the physical benefits of moving our bodies is always good as long as we are aware of and accepting of our limits. We walk a particular loop in the walkways at the Courtenay Air Park, pace varying slightly due to daily ability and it usually takes us about fifteen minutes on a good day. Since the walk is meant for pleasure as much as exercise, there are stops sometimes for taking photos, viewing birds, of which there are many, and in Jim's case, for viewing small aircraft taking off or landing. The park, as you will have gathered by now, is situated at an airfield for small craft. It borders a place where a river meets the sea and there is a small lagoon in the centre. Natural landscape has been supplemented by the deliberate planting of native plants or plants compatible with them and there is a small play area for children as well as two cafés. Since the park attracts so many birds, it's a popular place for bird watchers as well as dog walkers.
It took me over a decade to bother visiting this park because having grown up in a small town I was not accustomed to the park concept. When one wanted to walk, one either found an easily accessible rural area, walked on the beach or enjoyed meandering through residential neighbourhoods. The idea of driving to a park to walk around on a paved trail struck me as such an urban thing. I was both dismissive of it as well as inclined simply to never think of it when I wanted to go out. Even during my brief time living in a city, I simply walked out my front door and wound my way through neighbourhoods when I desired a walk. Old dogs can learn new tricks and now the park is a place I quite enjoy.
Today we encountered a flock of red winged blackbirds, though often it is the shore birds- herons, gulls, ducks and cormorants which we typically see on our walk. There are plenty of other birds, the unexciting crow, sparrow and starling among them. Actually I have a fondness for these birds too, crows included, so it's unfair to call them unexciting. On some days, whether it is to admire birds, scenery or airplanes, we make stops or slow down along our route for taking photos.
We stop at one of the cafés when we are nearly back at our car, and unless it is raining or very cold we sit outside. A hummingbird feeder hangs in a nearby tree and is visited constantly by a busy hummer. I've no idea if it is the same one or not but I always think of it as the same.
Jim took a photo of me, evidence of how warm and sunny it was, although briefly. We had a wind and rain storm yesterday and more rain is coming in later today. Grey clouds are moving in as I type this.
One of the most enjoyable aspects to me of the local winter landscape is the subtle colour variations and the textures. We have mountains, trees, rivers, lakes, the ocean and wonderful cloud-textured skies which can alternate with bright blue ones. As a fan of browns and greys I probably enjoy this landscape more than others might, or perhaps I am a fan of those colours because they are the colours of home. As we walk around the park I frequently comment to Jim about the textures of the sea grass next to the mudflats, mixed with the driftwood and rocks. Most likely he is just humouring me but I like to think that I am pointing out the charms of this place.
Having such an interest in texture means I also have a bit of a fondness for my own aging face. Freckles and wrinkles and the various marks that come from living all show up in this accidental close up selfie. Intending to snap a photo showing how I was sitting in the sun at a café, I forgot that I'd set my lens to be zoomed in. I can appreciate the texture of my own face as much as I can appreciate the texture of a muddy beach and I can only think that it's probably a good thing.