Overlooked Paths: Discovery and Unexpected Encounters

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.

Before going end of bridge, I take immediate side path on right (not shown above). Sandy Beach Bridge, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Looking back to blazing colour along Elbow River. Sandy Beach Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Looking at blazing fall colour above Elbow River. Sandy Beach Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

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.

1 of several northern flicker birds in this park, having a ball. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Taking another turn. Sandy Beach Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Wild rosehip berries in woods. Sandy Beach Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Flaming autumn colour. Sandy Beach Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Friendly black-capped chickadee. Sandy Beach Park, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Black-capped chickadee hangs around for food briefly. Elbow River, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

That detour from a known path done over and over, was a refreshing distraction for new views and unexpected encounters.

Autumn beauty in morning. Sandy Beach Park by Elbow River. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

May your detours and side trips be inspiring, help you become abit stronger and more humbly appreciative.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Fritz says:

    What beautiful pictures, Jean. Your description of your walk made me feel as if I were there. So peaceful. I love your analogy to the unexpected paths we take in life. I had expected to spend my life in a big city, and here I’ve been unexpectedly and. contentedly in a small place for decades now. Ah, the paths of life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I suspect you’re not too far away from a big city. Somehow I think you’ve planned well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pit says:

    Beautiful pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    Jean although i have been on that bridge many times i had no idea about the walking path. A great analogy to life.
    I was delighted to see your photo of the Flicker bird. Over the past days we have seen a bird just like that in our yard and we had no idea what it was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      🙂 Simple walk that I recommend for sure during autumn. It’s glorious.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lani says:

    A beautiful burst of fall colors and an adorable chickadee!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      First time in my life, a bird flew very close to me…and of course, I didn’t have any seed snacks for it. Does Cambodia have any birds this friendly?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Monica Singh says:

    Loved reading your adventure. Your post echoes a lot of my thoughts. I often like to stroll through overlooked woods or a path where you can cycle at your own pace. The untamed forest nature trails make me feel like an explorer for few moments. It’s a great way to get off the grid and enjoy the peace away from daily life, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ruby Ronin says:

    Jean, these photos are gorgeous. I will definitely have to go visit Canada in the fall to enjoy these amazing colors. Love the birds!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Pm any time, for things to do and see in British Columbia, Alberta or Toronto.


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