Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Shoot-Out - Prodigal Summer

Boldly stealing Barbara Kingsolver's title, because nothing else adequately describes this week here in Nanaimo, I invite you to walk with me down the Nanaimo Parkway Walkway from Nanaimo Lakes Road to McKeown Road, a distance of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). Normally, this is a 40 to 45 minute walk. On Wednesday, I took my camera along, and the walk took 65 minutes.

I had my trusty Nordic walking sticks strapped to my wrists, a bottle of water in a holster strapped to my waist, and my camera in a pouch on yet another strap around my waist. In truth, it's a wonder I could move - but I did, sort of, taking ten steps, stopping to unravel myself and take a picture, girding my wrists and setting out again, rinse, repeat, for over an hour.

Everything that could possibly bloom was blooming. There were daisies - I had been wanting to take daisy photos, because my older sister, whom I'll be visiting in a few weeks, loves daisies. I want to get three really good shots - daisies and two other flowers - and make a framed set for her. Once I started taking pictures, though, I realized that I had been walking right past some lovely blooms - like these wild columbine.*

*Disclaimer: If I misname any of these flowers, please forgive me. I'm a walker, not a botanist. I once knew a man who called all flowers Roses and was quite unapologetic about it, so I don't feel too bad.

The funny thing about this walk is - well, there are two funny things about it. First of all, when the Parkway - which is a bypass - was put in, a great deal of effort went into leveling it. The Parkway is a beautifully banked, nearly hill-free stretch of freeway that stretches the length of Nanaimo, interrupted only by five traffic lights (but we won't talk about them. I don't even want to think about them). But anyway, a great deal of effort went into leveling the Parkway. At the same time, someone conceived of the brilliant idea of putting in a walking/cycling path right alongside the Parkway - but nobody thought about leveling that land. I remember when the Parkway was being built. We used to go walking and cycling on the highway itself - it was dirt and gravel at that point. It was great. Then they let cars onto the road (the nerve!) and we were relegated to the Walkway, which is about as level as your average roller coaster. There are parts of the walk that I simply refuse to use, because I'd be found in a state of collapse, halfway up one of the hills. This particular stretch isn't too bad - most of the really hilly stuff is right at the beginning, when I still have some breath left.

The second funny thing is that you are walking with woods or fields on your left, but on your right, cars and trucks are whizzing by at 90 kilometers an hour, making a lot of noise. They can't get to you, though, because there's a barrier stopping them. That's a good thing.

About halfway through the walk, there is a field, and in the field are three alpacas. The day before I took these pictures, the alpacas were in the field, quite close to the fence. They gave me their usual "Who the hell are you?" looks. This time, though, they were all huddled under a tree at the far end of the field, and I couldn't get a good picture of any of them. I tried to convince them to come closer, but they weren't having any of that. It was nearly noon, and it was hot outside. I really wanted to photograph them because they were freshly shorn. Freshly shorn alpacas have to be the silliest-looking things in the world.

Thwarted in my attempt to get photos of the alpacas, I went back to flower spotting. I was nearly too late to catch the wild roses, which seem to be blooming frantically. I fully expect that the next time I go for a walk, they'll all be gone.

Also here for the short term are the lupins, which grow all along the Parkway. They are so lovely - and like the ubiquitous hawthorn, they always catch me by surprise.

I was interested to see the thimbleberry blossoms, because that means there will be pathside snacks before long. There are both thimbleberries and Himalayan blackberries along my route.

But I think my favourites are the California poppies, whose brilliant colour pops up wherever there's a sunny slope.

When you've been walking for about 35 minutes, (or 50, if you're stopping every thirty seconds to take a picture) the landscape changes dramatically. The sunny, open countryside gives way to a little bit of rain forest - very welcome on a hot day.

And there, my favourite graffiti artist has been at work. I know that 'graffiti' is a bad word to a lot of people, but I try to take each instance on its own merits, and whoever is painting hearts all over Nanaimo has my full approval. I think of it as somebody's personal I Heart Nanaimo campaign. I look forward to finding hearts along my walk - and I get the impression that the artist was very grateful to get in out of the sun, because there are well over a dozen hearts in the five-minute stretch of forest.

And speaking of graffiti, we're coming to the end of our walk now. Just before we get to McKeown Road, we go through an underpass. The railroad tracks are on our left, and on our right is the concrete underpass, which sports a brand-new display of rather impressive graffiti.

Again, I know graffiti aren't everybody's idea of art, but these are rather cool, don't you think?

Well, here we are at McKeown Road. I hope you enjoyed your walk. As part of my BetterU campaign, (see Tuesday posts) I'm walking this path - or another of Nanaimo's many scenic walks - four times a week. I am a very lucky woman.

For more Friday Shoot-Out posts, please go here.


Audrey said...

Oh how I miss B.C.! Your pictures are absolutely beautiful, and they made me very homesick! The grafitti was most interesting - the blue one looks a bit like some of the Haida art, native to the Island! Beautiful.

Reya Mellicker said...

A lovely walk through the blooming flowers, Sandra. Thank you. I was just at Robert Frost's Banjo, taking a walk, and before at at Rain Mountain Mama's blog where there was also a post about walking in the spring bloom.

Very cool theme moving through the blog world today. Bravo!

Sandra Leigh said...

Audrey, I hadn't thought about the Haida connection. I'll see if I can find out whose work this is.

Reya, you must be plum tuckered out after all that walking!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I received a little packet in the mail and when I opened it, the contents brought me the biggest of smiles - thank you thank you....I will cherish these things and give them a place of honor in my little log home....


PS - the photos of these flowers are gorgeous!

René Wing said...

Oh that was so lovely! thanks! I love that man who calls all flowers roses! I was just talking with a friend recently about naming and the mind and Eckhart Tolle and all that. I think he's a wise man, the roses fellow. (Of course, i love the names too.)

I hope you have a wonderful visit with your sister. How I miss mine! And soon I will post a recipe for thimbleberry muffins as we have them here too. yum!

loved the graffiti too. :) Years ago a dear peace activist friend gave me a graffiti gift on birthday morning: "Create Peace" in giant letters on the stone wall across the street from me.

Sandra Leigh said...

Kathryn - you got it! I'm pleased. The things you sent me made me so happy, I decided we should start a bloggy tradition of sending each other concrete things, so we would know there are real people behind the blogs, not just electronic ghosts. ;>)

René, I love your friend's graffiti gift idea - and thank you. You just gave me an idea. There's a story I want to tell on my blog...

John Hayes said...

This is such a great photo essay! The pictures are superb, & I love your observations. Alpacas-- right on there: the look a mixture of disdain & confusion (llamas are more sheer disdain), & alpacas are especially silly after being shorn. When Mo our alpaca first came to us it struck me that he looked like a cross between a camel & a poodle. & California poppies are such wonderful flowers; & good graffiti is great!


Kim said...

Whew! Quite an invigorating walk! I'm pooped!

What a beautiful place, run amok with Columbine and California Poppies, my kind of place...

René Wing said...

your magic word is 'unthonia'. is it a place... a Greek island?

Poetikat said...

That was funny - "I'm a walker, not a botanist."

I thought your pictures were lovely, even if you are a walker. You have a good eye. I thought of Dominic Rivron's treks as compared to yours. I'd like to see a picture of the Nordic walking sticks.

Sandra, I'm tagging you for a meme, if you're up for that sort of thing.


Sandra Leigh said...

John, yes - a camoodle.

Kim, no problem. There's a bench under the trees in that bit of rain forest. It's a great place to rest after a strenuous walk.

René, no, I think unthonia is a condition that results from wearing a thong after the age of twenty-five. ;>)

Kat, I'll have my husband take a picture of the sticks while I'm walking - unless you just want the sticks. I could do that. Meme? Cool. I'll be right there.

Zaroga said...

That was a great walk! Lovely photos.

Patty said...

Oh, I love the hearts. Great random shoot out. Photos are wonderful. Thanks for joining us.

I am running behind, but hope to catch up this week. So many new people. Whoo hoo!

Sandra Leigh said...

Zaroga and Patty- Thanks for visiting. I'm running behind as well, and I'll be more so after I take a day to go to Vancouver tomorrow. Ah, well.

Gordon said...

Anaszi graffiti art is a protected treasure in the southwest, U.S.
But, they arrest people for doing the same thing in that area.
I enjoyed your post very much. Sorry I'm late getting here.
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