Labyrinth Walk, Stittsville, Ontario
There are so many ways of walking and so many reasons to walk. We walked the Peace Park labyrinth morning and evening today. Often when I say sitting, I mean sitting meditation, and sometimes walking is walking meditation. A labyrinth is designed for walking meditation, although it certainly isn't the only place to do it, but it is a nice reminder of other ways to walk, other ways to be in a place, to practice being present. Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh is a well-known proponent of walking meditation: "Walking brings the mind and body together. Only when mind and body are united are we truly in the here and the now. When we walk, we come home to ourselves." (from How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh, 2015).
Location: Rotary Peace Park, Stittsville, Ontario
Length: 1 km
Companion: Ani Samten
Date: 28 August, 2018
"When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There's nothing else to it." Thich Nhat Hanh
Woods walk, Carling Township, Ontario
It was a windy day, it was a nervous day. Windy days are good for walking in the woods, because there are fewer bugs. The last time I remember walking this trail to the end was with my sister, my Dad, and a 22. On a ridge in the woods we set up tin cans for target practice. It must have been fall, and it was decades ago now.
The walk from the cottage to the trailhead is along Sand Bay Road, which I’ve walked, run, and driven many times over the past 30 years. The trail itself is wide. It passes an abandoned-looking, orange hunting camp not far in, and is clearly used by 4-wheelers, hunters, trappers, and snowmobilers. Two mountain bikes had ridden in and out again sometime after last night’s rain, but there was no other sign of recent human activity. I was on the lookout for whitetail deer, black bears, moose (I would love to see a moose here!), beaver, and Massasauga rattlesnakes, but only saw some small birds and puddle frogs.
The trail winds through woods and wetlands, and is the best kind of walking – shady, and soft underfoot. A thick layer of pine needles, dead leaves, and moss cover the forest floor. Large puddles and some rocky outcroppings for variety. There is a particular smell to the Georgian Bay forest, mostly pine, birch, oak, maple, lots of ferns and moss, cattails, the rocks and the ground itself all smell like here. The shooshing of wind in the tree tops was continuous. A few maple leaves already red on the ground.
Sometimes the reward at the end of a walk is an excellent coffee shop, but in this case, it was a small hidden lake - the otherwise inaccessible Lockett Lake. There was a weathered red canoe chained to a tree that someone had left by the shore. The water was dark and inviting, and I found an oak tree by the shore to sit under for a while. It was evening and I walking quickly back out to the road, unprepared to be in the woods in the dark. It started to rain just as I got back.
Location: Silver Birch Road to Lockett Lake, and back, Carling Township, Ontario
Date: 22 August, 2018
Sandra Cowan likes to walk on trails, paths, and city streets. She is based in southern Alberta, Canada, as a visitor in the land of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Nation).