COLUMN: Spring solitude at Cheam Wetlands

'There isn’t a lot of time after all of that overachieving to slow down, look around, and appreciate all you have.'

Canada geese reflected in water at the Cheam Wetlands

Canada geese reflected in water at the Cheam Wetlands



It had been a long time since I’d had the chance to stop and smell the roses.

Life as a parent gets moving maddeningly, dizzyingly fast, in what seems like a blink of the eye. There’s that juggling act of who is picking up whom, who is making dinner, and wait — are we even eating together?

The carousel never seems to stop. But boy, oh boy are we parents proud of those busy, crazy days. We complain/boast about hectic days on social media, listing off piles of laundry tackled, dishes done, meals served, all with enough time left over to be generally awesome.

There isn’t a lot of time after all of that overachieving to simply slow down, to look around, to breathe in deeply and appreciate all you have.

That is, until you’re forced to stop. That happened for me last November, when my own personal whirlwind of busyness came to a crashing halt, literally. A car accident resulted in a broken knuckle on my writing hand, a concussion that addled my brain, and airbag injuries that tenderized me head to toe.

No more busy days for me. But my ego took a hit, too. I had to learn how to slow down, and to stop being busy. As the days and weeks and months ticked by as I healed, it felt awful to feel useless, to not be busy — I couldn’t even plough through the pile of books I’d picked up in October at the Rotary Book Sale. On the worst days, I felt utterly irrelevant.

It was, without a doubt, the worst winter of my life.

But the old adage that time heals all wounds is quite true, and in the meantime I’m learning to embrace this new pace of life. So on Saturday, coincidentally the last day of winter, I took a short, slow walk through the Cheam Wetlands.

I grabbed my camera and a book, thinking I would snap a few pics and put my feet up at a picnic table and read in the sunshine.

But the solitude of the place hypnotized me. With every step, I felt more at ease. Slowly I worked my way to the viewing platform, drinking up everything around me.

It took me a while to hear the birdcalls. To really hear them. I was mesmerized by the rushing water of the creeks, the sound of my feet on the gravel below. As the grasses shook and rustled beside me, I wondered if snakes were awake this early in the year, or if it could be a shrew bustling around.

The nature reserve was alive with sounds, but oh, so peaceful. The geese, the rushing water, the rustling in the bushes was just one part of it. But it may have been what wasn’t there that really made it wonderful.

No traffic noise, no bleeping and blinging electronics, no clock to punch, nobody to chatter away with. Just me and my own thoughts, my camera, and all the time in the world.

Every few steps, I stopped to avoid overdoing things, but instead of cursing my lack of full mobility, I took the opportunity to taker a closer look all around me.

The metaphor was not lost on me. It’s essential to slow down that crazy train of overdoing. It’s time to stop glorifying being busy.

As I slowed down, I found life everywhere. It was time to start taking some photos.

It had been a while since I’ve done anything but point and shoot my little Nikon, so I played with the settings, and searched my memory bank for any information on F-stops, apertures, and other manual overrides.

I slowed down even more, scanning every new leaf, enjoying every bit of green, red and yellow that popped up around me.

The photos didn’t always work out. Among the 150 images I captured the bulk of them were either too fuzzy, too dark, too boring, or just ho-hum.

As I clicked away, I knew that most of what I tried to  capture, while glorious in person, wouldn’t be — couldn’t be — captured in my inferior lens with my rusty skills. But this exploration wasn’t about award-winning photography. It was about getting out and enjoying a morning of solitude.

It was about dusting off a bleak winter mood and embracing spring.

Good practice for smelling the summer roses.

jpeters@theprogress.com

 

Just Posted

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack woman’s 100-km birthday marathon to benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read