Happy Canada Day! Let’s Appreciate Nature and Each Other Every Day!

When I was 9 years old my family and I moved from the suburbs to a rural country setting. Transferring to 2nd Line West was a big change for me. It was a move away from good friends from my public school as well as my minor hockey friends. This house was originally purchased as an investment property that was rented out until Mom decided to move us there in 1972.

Just after the purchase I recall Dad driving me up to that sprawling ranch bungalow on two acres, with hedges running down each side of the eighty foot driveway. The property also had an in-ground pool at the back left corner, with a pool house and change rooms. The pool area was very removed from the house. The tool shed bordered on the north side of the property line.

As Dad and I walked through the empty house he said, “Come with me. I’ve got a treat for you”.

We explored the backyard and ducked between the upper and middle fence boards into a hay field directly behind the property. When we got through the fence he said, “The Credit River is right back over those hills”. We walked through this golden hay field, which was up to his waist and up to my chest, for about ten minutes.

And then we saw it.

The river and the bordering railway tracks through the river valley was beautiful to see at any time but especially so now, at high noon on a hot mid-summer’s day.

As we stood beside each other Dad explained how he saw this view. He described in detail about country living and how I could fish and journey around whenever I wanted. “I’ll park the trailer at the back of the lot beside the pool if you want to have friends up,” he said. “You don’t see it right now but this place and country setting is magical.” Then he added, “You will see how I see it one day, I promise”.

I resisted the move initially having to leave my friends and neighborhood road hockey games behind.

Almost five years later and after his death I experienced what he had said on that summer’s day.

I was fourteen and riding my ten-speed bike up the big hill a quarter mile south from our house on 2nd Line West. It was spring and the fields were draining from the spring runoff. Little streams in all fields meandered through. On this ride I peddled by many of these streams. The most challenging part riding north back to the house was at the Davidson farm property.

The long, grueling steep hill started gradually and then became steep, then leveled off, then became even steeper to the top. It was like it gave me a break half way through to help me prepare for the finishing leg. On this hill I stood up on the peddles, leaving the seat and burying my head close to the handle bars, concentrating on my breathing. Exhausted, I almost came to a stop but while still forging ahead I looked up.

The sun was setting and I inhaled the  spring air filled with many fresh smells around me.

I watched a flock of black birds fly towards me and then straight up as they reached me. Slowing to a stop I got off the bike. This was when I witnessed through my own eyes what Dad had told me that day. The colors in sky and brilliance of a setting sun stole my heart.

My breathing slowed and got deeper. At that moment I fell in love with nature.

He was right!

In our busy world which is supposed to make life easier and free us to enjoy our leisure time, we forget too easily that our time on earth is short and every day is a miracle. It’s become a cliche people say but don’t really understand or take seriously. Today, on Canada Day, how about you take a walk outside – no matter the weather – and spend some quality time with nature. It is a major part of us, of who we are!

Share with me in the comments your own moments of clarity and appreciation. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Canada Day,

Tom Herstad

Author of Love, Care and Share