Summer is upon us and my adventures continue on our extensive pathways in Calgary. I chose a beautiful hot day to explore Griffith Woods Park in the Discovery Ridge neighbourhood. There is a series of paved pathways that ramble into different ecosystems. There are also some gravel pathways that lead to interesting areas, but I found out it really drains the battery on my scooter which shortened my time for exploring the area. These gravel trails are somewhat packed, but there are spots where there is extra gravel due to washouts or lower areas. I think these would be the perfect paths for the Park Explorer since it runs on human power. I know I will always get back to the parking lot.
For today’s adventure, I started off from the parking lot on the main paved path going straight west. There is a fork right at the beginning, the other path leading to the left goes east. I’ll talk about that a little later. I started to see flowers right away. With that I knew it was going to be a meandering day because I wanted to find as many plants as possible. Many blooms are small, so it takes a little to find them. A person can’t go screaming past and expect to see them. The photos you see at the beginning are the flowers and blooming shrubs that were right along the pathway. I can only imagine what I could have found off the track. Some of the plants included a wild violet, blue eyed grass, twining honeysuckle vine, wild strawberries, and horsetail.
The best surprise today was finding blue eyed grass. It instantly brought up happy memories of my childhood growing up in Northern Alberta, and being at home strolling through the untouched meadows. In remembering this fond memory, I had to stop so that I could take a photo of this delicate native, and some horsetail next to it. The horsetail (common name for Equisetum sp. - as I am not sure of the species) is a segmented rush (round, not flat like grass) that likes to be in moist to bog-like or disturbed soils. The First Nations people of this area used it as a medicinal remedy. So, as I was taking a picture, a friendly woman with two children approached me and I told them the story of these two plants. The little one was at once intrigued by the horsetail and my story of pulling it apart in segments when I was a child. The mother and I both interjected that it was not in a Provincial park because you should never pick flowers or plants in a park.
I continued on my way, stopping frequently to look and photograph vegetation. There were many families and people walking their dogs. I chatted with a few passers-by and kept going along the west path until I came to the next parking lot signaling me to head back the way I came. As I mentioned previously, I took a little detour on the gravel path, but found I was losing battery power fast. No one else was around, so I became a little nervous I wouldn’t make it back to the paved path. Luckily, I made it and got back to the beginning of my tour.
I had a little time and a little battery left so I took that path I mentioned earlier to the East. It leads to a mainly grass lined path with homes on the north of it and the river to the south of it. There were many people on this hot day wading in the river and sunning on the sand bars. Dogs were running and jumping in the cool refreshing water and exploring all the driftwood that they grabbed and threw in the water. I sat and watched people floating on rafts or tire tubes in the slow flowing stream. I decided I better head back toward the parking lot where Access Calgary would pick me up, I wasn’t sure how long the battery would hold out. I found a nice shady spot and watched people come and go. Then I heard the music. I thought, “What a great way to end a hot day! I get to have an ice cream!” An ice cream truck chimed into the parking lot and people streamed towards it like it was a life saver thrown to them in a stormy sea. I was so content sitting having my chocolate covered ice cream bar and looking at all the photos I took of the beautiful flowers right along the pathway in our backyard. As I was sitting eating and reflecting on my day, it struck me that even though all these people were out in this beautiful park, many did not see what was around them. They were enjoying themselves, but not really seeing the natural wonders. I realized that people have their individual ways of enjoying the outdoors. One is not better than the other. I just hope that even a few of them would realize that by stopping and seeing the supposed insignificance, they would understand the importance of the things they may have otherwise missed. I guess that could be a lesson in life in general. I urge you to stop and observe what you have not seen before and you may find a new truth.
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