Nature, Walking

Climb every mountain! Or failing that, a small hill will do.

Today I climbed a steep hill onto a ridge that overlooks part of the Bow River valley that cuts through Calgary. I eyed the hill up several times over the winter, but always chickened out. I kept picturing myself losing my footing on an icy patch and rolling down the embankment, my sorry carcass coming to rest under a few willow trees and no one ever knowing what had become of me. Except the coyotes. Obviously.

Today the ice was gone and the trail looked so well trodden and etched into the bank, I thought to myself, “You can do this.

I used to climb river banks without a second thought. Now, approaching my sixties, I have become a bit cautious. Too many times I have confidently approached a body manoeuvre that I have performed hundreds of times before, only to find my body saying, “Nope. That’s not happening anymore.”

Most memorably was an incident about three years ago, where we had gone to a farm based market in a barn-turned-shop. As we came out, we met Penelope the Potbellied Pig. With my phone in one hand and some homemade soap and knitted slippers I had just purchased in the other, I squatted down to snap a picture.

All went well until I went to stand back up and discovered I couldn’t do so without pushing myself up by putting my hand on the ground; the same ground that was covered in chicken droppings. With my hands full and not wanting to risk sticking my hand in chicken crap, I struggled to stand up and instead, simply tipped over. By the look on both my husband’s and Penelope’s face, this was not my most graceful moment.

Penelope the Pig – Shot taken just before my unimpressive tipping point. Her expression didn’t change much.

After that I did a lot more yoga. Which brought me to the embankment today and the goat trail up its side. Aging is an elastic exercise between resisting and persisting. Today I took a deep breath and chose persisting and triumphantly made it to the top, out of breath, but without any wild mishaps or tumblings along the way.

This view was my reward. What you see are a few storm ponds below. The Bow river flows just beyond them. Looking west are those incredible Rocky Mountain peaks. The mountains bring a crazy climate to the city with wind, hail, heat, snow and rain all sometimes happening in a single day, but they are so gorgeous we forgive them.

Spring is only just arriving, so the landscape still appears fairly barren, but looks can be deceiving. I looked closer, and to my delight, I got a second reward for my efforts!

The whole shoulder of the embankment was studded with gorgeous prairie crocuses in full bloom!

So that’s how life goes. Some days will see you rolling in the crap, but others will have you climbing a hill and standing tall with beautiful bursts of spring at your feet and sweeping vistas in your face. The trick is to just keep on going, because you just never know what the next day will bring.

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