Back To The Orchard

“It is held that David Suzuki first experienced his love of natural history, while exploring in the Coves pond”… and much has changed since he was teenager. I guess his family moved to Ontario from BC, and spent his late teens in London in the 50s.

“Our identity includes our natural world, how we move through it, how we interact with it and how it sustains us.”

David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

This area definitely sustained me during those last years of my marriage, in the 90s, when everything I thought I’d wanted, needed, the future I thought was mine, all of that was abandoned, and this abandon place was where I went to feel something other than pain and loss and grief.

Back then you could still see all the long corridors of the apple trees, and every spring the place transformed into a scene from some magical Arthurian tale, and it, even now as the trees have almost completely disappeared, while the grassy lanes of wildflowers have disappeared, it retains that magic.

And so we returned, as I had been a bit of a hermit this winter, staying to the concrete village sidewalks, and had not been down to the coves in ages. Somehow the cold got into my bones and Irish received far less of these long walks to my favourite places this last winter.

“Why do you need to go outside? For one thing, to appreciate what it is that keeps you alive. And the more time you spend outside, the more you are able to sense change in that world. If you can smell something, chances are that unless it’s flowers or food, it doesn’t belong there and is not good for us. But even more profound, we have to get outside and seek nature because we need that connection for our physical and mental health.”

David Suzuki, Letters to My Grandchildren

I’ve been eyeing the trail down every day I catch the bus, as the path to the coves begins just off where I wait where Elmwood meets Wharncliffe, a reminder of what I am missing. Oh, yes, long, long overdue, and I had felt this last few months this almost imprisonment, though self-imposed, and I don’t know why I let it go so long?

But I shook it off, harnessed up the shnoggin’ doggin’ and off we ventured, with a slow meander down the village sidewalks to Wharncliffe, Irish sniffing out the latest news every 4 or 5 feet or so, and I repeat to myself “patience, patience”, as I was anxious to be there already.

Situated at the bottom of a steep ravine, this area was once a meander of the Thames River, where there are now 3 Oxbow ponds. Because it is so secluded, this is the only place I feel confident to let her off leash, but unfortunately other dog walkers had thought the same thing on this rare sunny day, so she only got time to herself on the back bit of the orchard, but I swung around the way I don’t usually go, avoiding the centre which remains swampy well into April, even June.

It has a sorted history, and once a paint factory sat right in the middle of this beautiful spot. Now, decades later, I guess what lies beneath is all the chemicals and poisonous agents, remnants from that time. Though, if not for that, I suppose it would have been already developed. As it lies now protected and therefore it is saved for us, and nature will have its way with all those toxins and filter out the worst of it all overtime, as nature has a way of restoring, nurturing and healing, even itself.

“The place where we spend most of our lives moulds our priorities and the way we perceive our surroundings. A human-engineered habitat of asphalt, concrete and glass reinforces our belief that we lie outside of and above nature, immune from uncertainty and the unexpected of the wild.”

David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

I’m lucky though, I live in a well treed neighbourhood, with gardens galore, and access to the wild and wonderful. I am blessed, we are blessed who live here, and as disappointed as I was to find the other walkers there, I am glad they are as it means this spot is precious to many of us.

Us‘… interesting that is the word that first comes to mind, as these shared spaces do give, somehow, the community a sort of glue, as nature is often known to do.

“The future doesn’t exist. The only thing that exists is now and our memory of what happened in the past. But because we invented the idea of a future, we’re the only animal that realized we can affect the future by what we do today.”

David Suzuki
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