It’s a glorious Canadian Thanksgiving Sunday. The bird is roasting in the oven, the pies are baked, and there was nothing else to do but go for a walk. So we went – up the hill, all the way to the gate. Yes, that gate. And then – we skirted around it, and kept walking.
Yes, the saga of the cut-off walk has finally come to a satisfying conclusion. Let me back up a bit: you’ll remember that a couple of months ago I got all bent out of shape about the neighbour at the end of the road who had blocked off access to the forest road? Well, that wasn’t the end of it. It’s a bit of a long and convoluted story, involving a conversation with the lady who lives next door to that property (or next driveway, as it were), who gave me the phone number of the man who sort of looks after that place when the owner isn’t here (it’s recreational property; the owner lives in Alberta), who talked to said property owner, who…
Anyway, as it turns out, what for the last fifteen years I’d thought of as Crown Land is, in fact, private property. It’s still owned by the same person who’s had it for quite a lot of years now, and he hasn’t actually changed his tune on allowing people to go for walks there – he’s just waging an ongoing battle with dirt bikers, who like to chew up the forest paths with their rice rockets. Hence the gate. Then the “Keep Out” signs. Then the wooden bars on the side. Then a chunk of wire fence strung between the trees beside the bars.
But it was that same day the chunk of wire fence went up that I got an inkling that the lady-up-the-road was probably right about his attitude towards walkers. I wasn’t comfortable just pushing my way past the Ponderosa pine on the right-hand side of the gate like she was doing – not without express permission from Mr Property Owner. But that day, I noticed that the branch of the pine tree that was most in the way had been bent aside, and at the foot of that tree there was an arrangement of logs and boulders that looked like nothing so much as a stile. A nice little stile for friendly pedestrians to step over, but not nasty noisy dirt bikes to get through.
And a couple of days ago, I came home from running errands, and there was a note from my Man on my computer keyboard: “It’s ok to walk up the hill.” Huh? Oh!! The man-who-looks-after-the-property had finally called me back, and it’s official: Walkers Are Permitted.
So up the hill we went. And it was glorious. The sunshine glittering on the lake, the deep greens of the pines, gold and bright red of the turning leaves, brilliant blue of the October sky – such a gift to be grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day. And my gratefulness is that much more profound for having thought, for just a few weeks, that I was cut off from this pleasure. What a difference a little stile can make.
LIfe, the Universe, and The Stile. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!