A few weeks ago, in a park I decided to veer off by bike, onto a different side route. This side route was right by the entry of a popular bike pedestrian bridge. I’ve been ignoring this well-marked cut-off, for the past 9 years.
I’m not sure why we never bothered to slow down, dismount and take the leisurely easy walk through a lightly wooded area on the well-trampled path. Maybe I wondered if there would be a ton of walkers and dogs.
So one autumn morning, tempted by the full glory of blazing autumn leaf colour, I went exploring with my bike alongside. There weren’t many people –yet. So perfect time.
I asked a guy who emerged from the path area with fistful of path little flag markers, if there were birds there. He said: “There’s lots by the river shoreline” –which I no idea the Elbow River bent around by the walking path.
So I ambled on ahead, periodically looking back at the glorious blazing treeline along the bluffs, now from a different angle and took photos.
Surprises Dance Ahead
Only a few steps ahead, then I’m gently enveloped into a mini-forest. At that moment, there was a noisy gathering of several Northern flicker birds winging about and pecking into the trees for insect treats. They are abit like woodpeckers in food pickings. I had never seen this many in a small area.
The gentle path kept winding along and tempting me with morning sun-dappled light filtering among the crisp bright leaves. Occasionally there would be other walkers but only every 3-5 minutes.
Then I rolled my bike with me, down to the river shoreline. The river was quite low at this time of year. Small gatherings of people with kids scattered along the shoreline, with echoing shrieks and chatter with a dog or two playing in the water.
Tiny Birds Bombing Around
Suddenly a curious, bold black-capped chickadee bird flitted less than 1 metre from me. Clearly it has approached other human beings, begging for food or attention. And it kept zipping back near me, a little beady bird bomb and up into the leafy safe trees. If all birds were like this, modestly distant for safety yet close enough for cheery twittery dialogue.
This little side journey lit some recent memories of other paths we have wandered in life or shall I say, we chose to take the side route which led to exploration, life discoveries and stumbles along the way. For me, the biggest surprises have been:
· a career choice which I never dreamt of meeting such a broad cross-section of people along the way -firefighters, engineers, lawyers, judges, accountants, land surveyors, construction workers, and the list goes on
· latching onto cycling which opened up to a world of different travel and seeing world locally and overseas. It’s only a bike, after all.
· living and working in 3 different Canadian cities and provinces. I thought I would have remained in Toronto forever.
· Some of the above activities, have led to different friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise, if I wasn’t there at “right” time and place.
That detour from a known path done over and over, was a refreshing distraction for new views and unexpected encounters.
May your detours and side trips be inspiring, help you become abit stronger and more humbly appreciative.