Smell is a powerful trigger for recalling memories, those sentimental longings of wistful affection for the past.
My van smells like wet dog though, nothing nostalgic comes to mind except the contemplation of picking up a tree shaped air freshener. I’m rolling down Gillespie road in my beat up old 1992 right hand drive van while optimistic dogs stick their sweet heads out the window, they are much more interested in the smells than the The Tragically Hip song “Courage”, that slips out of my radio; “The human tragedy consists of the necessity of living with consequences.”
Being in the forest inspires our imagination. It stimulates our senses and helps shake off depression and anxiety. As you explore the Cedar Grove, Roche Cove and Matheson Lake trails you may see or hear migrating ducks, such as red-breasted mergansers, Barrow’s golden-eye or buffleheads while inhaling the damp, musty, spruce fragrance.
There is a seemingly placid stillness at Cedar Grove but a sublime patient movement is unfolding. Nature is growing, slowly and happily here. Nature moves a little bit each day and some of the cedars have been expanding towards the horizon for last 500 years. The nuances of the West Coast weather have provided a spectacular combination of plants like mosses and lichen, licorice and ferns to flourish through Cedar Grove.
Listening to the forest reminds me to not only open my ears and hope to hear the flute whistle of a Western meadowlark but also to keep my heart open. Then the sound of the beat of the paws on the path and the splashing through the rain pooled puddles, the dogs run by. When our hearts are open and when we’re in that moment, you know the one, where you feel connected and the energy flows through you, it`s pretty special. You can feel that here.
If you have time and a sense of wonder, there is a vast sweep of nature at Roche Cove10 minutes from Gillespie Road on the left. The crooked smile start of trailhead is on the left side of the Galloping Goose parking lot. From there it`s a moderate climb for about 5 minutes and then the trail flattens out. The trail is well marked but at one important junction it’s not. Stay right at the 1.5 km mark and the trail will start to ramble down to the Galloping Goose trail. From this access point you can take a right and be back at your car in about 45 minutes. If you go left you can walk down the trail and meet up with the Matheson Lake Park, then this just turned into a two hour adventure.
As I walk through the forest and step over the moss and fallen spruce boughs I think how Cedar Grove and places like that are gifts Sooke offers up for free. The appropriate response in receiving any gift is the feeling of gratefulness, and respect. My dogs Abby and Lola hop back into the van and settle into their spots, their wet dog smell fills the air. These are the greatest days.
Ron Larson is a freelance writer who writes about the intriguing and accessible wild spaces in the Sooke area.