Ron Larson is the Outdoor Guy

The Outdoor Guy: on birds and gratitude

Ron Larson writes about his experiences in the great outdoors around Sooke

Being in the forest inspires our imagination. It stimulates our senses and helps shake off depression and anxiety. Then again so does reading a good book like the Hunger Games or To Kill a Mocking Bird. Harper Lee had her Mocking Bird while Suzanne Collins who wrote the Hunger Games has the Mocking Jay. These birds don`t live around here. But 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. The only mocking you might hear is from your friends if you don`t bring some decent boots. It`s pretty wet through the Cedar Grove trail this time of year but worth it.

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 our hearts open. 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 and you can feel that here.

If you have time and a sense of wonder there is a vast sweep of nature at Roche Cove, 10 minutes from Gillespie Road on the left. The crooked smile start of the trailhead is on the left side of the Galloping Goose parking lot. From there it’s a moderate climb for about five 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 I think back to what my teachers taught me; that the mockingbird and the mocking jay are the key metaphors in both the Hunger Games and To Kill a Mockingbird. The birds represent helping those who can`t help themselves. This is true, but to me, they represent freedom, music and nature. These three things Cedar Grove and places like this around Sooke offer up daily for free.

Today isn’t just another day it’s a gift and the appropriate response in receiving any gift is the feeling of gratefulness, my dogs are great teachers for this. They act as though today is their first and their last day.

 

 

 

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