Western education 2013

Thursday, July 10, 2014

.... a wonderful day for a walk...

.... you just never know what adventures or people will come your way....

Lydia and I just wanted to do something together yesterday.  Max suggested we head out on our bikes to Springbank Park.... I am not so sure my body can handle a trip down and back so we decide to take the car and park it near the community center off Wonderland Rd.  We noticed a couple walking their dog a few meters behind us as we stepped across the bike/pedestrian path and began our walking trip.  Along the way I would eat berries growing along the path and wonder at the surging river from the previous days of torrential rainfall.  Lydia wanted nothing to do with the berries and kept questioning if I knew what I was doing???  I have to chuckle and at the same time be grateful for all the forced 'marches' as a kid when my parents would point out all kinds of things to us kids.  She berated me for stopping and squishing a pair of Japanese Beetles as if I would intentionally embarras her?? 

A few hundred meters from the beginning of the paved bike/pedestrian path is a bridge that crosses over the river and curves around the parking lot of a Golf Course.  The tree that stands beside the pathway is a behemoth of a structure reaching a height of what I can only estimate to be in excess of 60 feet..... the trunk dwarfs the car parked a few meters away.  We crane our heads and I snap a picture of the canopy high above us making us feel like ants below it.


We cross back over the bridge and Lydia notices that the concrete has rusty markings criss-crossing the surface and I explain to her that it is the iron stucture beneath the bridge that has leeched through... I try to go down the embankment to look under the bridge and manage to slip a few feet.  Lydia is concerned that I may have hurt myself and demands that I return to her immediately... the couple that was behind us has stopped and I can hear the concern in the man's voice when he asks if I am OK.  "Yes thank you"... He mentioned something about being over 50 and not being able to do what we think we can.  I have to smirk and reply that I was thinking the very same thing.  We began to talk and walk along the path together.  The pain in my sternum and adjoining ribs are warning me to not do that again.

The couple come here often to walk with each other and to take their dog Walter with them. Lydia is loving their friendly pug-cross and follows him to give him a little pat.  The husband mentions that there is an upside-down shopping cart ahead and peaks our curiousity as to why there is a cart surrounded by four construction cones adjacent to the walking path.  We all inspect the cage and read the sign that tells us that turtle eggs have been layed here, well off the bank of the swollen river.  Wow!!!  They even have pictures on their cell phone of a tiny painted turtle cupped in the hand of their daughter from a previous visit.  

Lydia and I continue up ahead, with me still eating the berries along the path and admiring the old willows with burls that look like warts everywhere on the trunks and large branches....  I ponder as to the age of these trees?

We head along admiring the fast moving murky river and notice a culvert on the right hand side and some really tall plants..... the couple is just feet behind us and asks if it is a Hogweed (a noxious non-indigenous weed that is dangerous to touch its sap - can cause blindness and burns to exposed skin and eyes).... I have never seen one up close .... not sure that I want to...... but a quick seach on the internet on my phone indicates its a real possibility... The London Free Press has a picture of a blooming one in today's paper warning people to not remove the plant themselves lest they get the sap on themselves which can cause serious burns and even blindness.....I will have to visit the park again to take pictures when it blooms.

Up ahead are more cones and an orange frost fence complete with a sign that indicates the walkway is closed.  We can see workers up ahead but decide to stop and chat.  Lydia inspects under the cones to see if there are any turtles... no, but she checks again anyway and then plants herself beside Walter giving him some attention.  We formally introduce ourselves and the topic turns to the wife's cancer diagnoses and chemo last year.... I had chemo last year too, I tell her... that's when I realized she had a pink ribbon tattoo on her forearm..... Two unrelated women, born months apart, both 50 with similar stories of diagnosis... what are the chances???  I don't believe in chance meetings... this was meant to be.  We began to chat, her and I about our journey and where we were at.  She admires my daughter for being so accepting of my journey.... her youngest is struggling in her late teens with her mother's diagnosis.  We continue to walk together and Lydia hangs with Mark and their dog chatting amicably with him.  We both feel very comfortable sharing and chatting as we take a dirt path to the beginning where we first noticed them and their dog.  We bid each other well, I shake Mark's hand and give Ingrid a hug.  If you should need me anytime, please let me know.  Lydia and I will continue alone to get an ice cream cone while they head off in another direction but not before connecting through FaceBook on our iPhones.

Lydia continues to chat to me as we head towards the river and to the ice-cream stand.  It is a rare treat for me, so with a few small scoops in hand, we saunter over to an empty picnic table overlooking the rapidly rushing waters of the muddy Thames River... we sit on the table snuggled in together and just chatting about our recent experience and grateful for the encounter.  Lydia is such a gift with her joyful and poignant insight into our lives together....She hugs and kisses me "I really love you mom" she says as she licks at the dripping moosetracks icecream.  "and I really love you too Miss Lydia".  We sit there watching a stick rush by, carried by an incredible volume of water. 

Its time to head out and we will go and pick up some produce at a local growers stand.  I keep thinking that its getting late in the afternoon and that maybe we will just head to the grocery store.... sometimes I should really listen to my inner voice.... after purchasing our veggie needs, we head back towards home on the highway leading up to a main London road when all of a sudden, out of a side street, a car pulls out in front of us.  I don't have time to brake so I have to pull out onto the paved shoulder and speed by to make it around him... of course blaring the horn.  He speeds up and pulls up to the back of my car and I step on the brake to get him to back off.  He chooses to speed through traffic to once again find his way behind me only this time to take a picture of my plate and to flip me a nasty grin.  I roll back to block my plate from his vision.  The light changes and I try to weave around a few cars to get away from him and see that he has fallen once again in line behind me.  He follows me when he turns at the light into a drive lane leading to a parking lot.  Well that just did it for me.  I stopped the car, pulled the brake (standard car) and walked towards his car that had pulled in behind me.  I was hopping mad and telling him to get lost... bad enough you cut me off but now you are following me... I have a child in my car whom you put in danger (thats about the jist of it).... so he pretends to talk to his cell phone like a coward after trying to intimidate us!!!!  I stomp back to the car and drive around trying to lose him.... I park and Lydia and I head into the grocery store but a few hundred feet into the store and I get a bad feeling so we head out to see him walking in our direction.  I have a picture of his plate parked 20 feet away from our car..... 

We head back home and make a scrumptious dinner of our fresh finds.  After dinner we head out to shop at Giant Tiger for some cottage wear for Lydia..... she is an excellent shopper - she knows just what she wants and busies herself finding a swimsuit, shorts and tops.... and a lovely dress.  She is just so grown up these days and I am proud of her for knowing what she wants and for the confidence she exudes in her daily life.  I catch a glimpse of me in the reflection of a dressing mirror.... egads, do i really look like my mother these days. Somehow, the view of myself never seems to match how I perceive myself??? Lydia will tell me later that the lighting is yellow and not face friendly.... where does she get all this info??   Oh yes, from all the make-up sites she finds on YouTube.  

Ruth finds us rummaging around the clothes racks and we give her a squeeze.... then Kevin calls (next door neighbor and friend) while we are chatting and I have a chance to say hello!!!  Ruth escorts us through the aisles as we pick out sales items for our pantry shelves.  It has been a long day and we hug her and head out.  Lydia reaches up to give me a peck as we navigate the bumpy roadway with the cart to our car.   I adore you Lydia and I know you will make a great mommy some day.  We hop in the car and she reaches over to kiss my cheek and rub my head... "Thanks Mom" she says with a broad happy grin.  I look over and into her eyes... "no, thank you baby".  We hold hands when I drive in between shifting gears.  Life is good.

Thank you to Mark and Ingrid for being such a special part of our has been many years since we have been back to Springbank park and it could not have been better if it was meant to be alll along.  We hope to spend some time with you both soon. xo

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