It’s pretty easy to become so caught up in our daily activities that we don’t take the time to just slow down for a few minutes and appreciate what is around us. I am very guilty of this: there is always one more email to read or write, a little more to be done on a project, groceries to buy, dishes to wash, meals to cook.
On a beautiful, warm, sunny day recently, my partner and I were headed home from a family visit. We got away a bit earlier than we had planned, and my thoughts immediately turned to how much more work I could get done with this extra time once we got home. The list I was creating, via a series of emails to myself – another one every time I thought of something more I could do – had become epic by the time my partner suggested that we take a “quick” trip off the 401 to Presqu’ile Provincial Park so we could walk on the beach.
I groaned, silently, but acquiesced, and I am glad I did.
A couple of weeks earlier, we had spent a long weekend in Algonquin Park. We stayed at the very comfortable while still rustic Arowhon Pines Resort, where the food is so tasty and plentiful that guests really must take at least one hike a day just to be able to work up an appetite between meals.
I have been extremely fortunate to have seen breathtaking fall leaf colours a couple of times in recent years, once along highway 41 between Napanee and Eganville and once along the trans-Canada highway between Sault Ste Marie and Wawa. Both times, I was driving to work gigs, and I just drank in the colours, wishing I could somehow imprint them in my eyes to summon up at will during the gloomier months of the year.
The colours we saw in Algonquin Park this year were the most amazing either of us has ever seen. The reds were brilliant, the neon yellows shone in both the sun and rain, and the oranges were almost electric in their intensity. Set against the rocks and lakes and mingled with evergreens, it was hard to imagine how anything anywhere in the world could be more beautiful.
While the Park was overrun with tourists – somehow, we had thought we would be the only people checking out the beauty of the leaves – we found some quiet trails to wander where we could absorb the beauty around us.
All that loveliness combined with no internet access made for a wonderfully relaxing and restorative weekend, the impact of which I was able to hold on to for a few days after returning to reality.
However, sadly, it was not long till those colours had faded to the back of my mind, replaced with thoughts about work, family, bills to pay and meals to prepare.
A quiet walk on the beach
Our recent stop at Presqu’ile came at the end of a particularly busy and intense work week for me. The last thing I thought I wanted to do was walk along the beach; after all, I had important work I needed to get to right away.
However, brief as our detour was, and it was brief, it proved to be just what I needed. The drive from the 401 through Brighton to the park was, itself, restful and pretty, with lots of fall colours to see, along with apple and pumpkin stands at the side of the road. By the time we got to the park, I had stopped counting how many minutes this adventure was taking and started to relax.
Our car was the only one in the parking lot and, with the exception of more geese and gulls than I think I have ever seen in one place, we were the only ones on the beach. We did not walk for long, but the 10 or 15 minutes we spent stretching our legs, breathing in the fresh air, listening to the geese jabbering at one another and at us, and looking at the lake and the blue, blue sky pushed my stress and fatigue far away.
And, while our arrival time at home was about an hour later than it would have been otherwise, I accomplished everything on those lists I had made in the car.