When I lived in Peterborough I had a forest around the corner from me, I've spoken affectionately about University Heights Park many many times and it truly is a gem. Then I moved to Kingston, there are some nice wilder parks but none too close to my house. But here I am right across the street from the lake, which presents other opportunities - like swimming! Alas from the time I moved to Kingston last May and up until the end of last week all or parts of the park down the street has been closed for renovations.
Yesterday - finally, after months and months of anticipation and going by the work in progress nearly everyday - I had a chance to check it out with a friend. Breakwater Park has a walkway, picnic tables, a small sandy area, a rocky beach, stairs down to the lake, a bridge across to the pier where the water is deeper and many places to jump or walk into the water and climb back onto shore. All that it needs, in my opinion and desire for the optimal beach experience, is a public bathroom and a spot where a food truck or two can go because I totally could've gone for an ice cream. My swimming opportunities have been rather limited this year, more limited than I had planned (ahem, see previous post), so I was happy to jump into water! I was impressed and my friend was impressed as well. And given that they had just been to Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County the previous day, which is one of the nicest place for a swim around here, and they were impressed with Breakwater Park, I'd say this was a pretty nice swimming spot.
So nice in fact I have now visited it twice!
It was a hot and very humid day of fieldwork (see very sweaty me). I joked with my same friend that I had gone swimming with yesterday that walking in the woods today felt more like swimming with how wet I was from sweating. And in my mind at the same time I had a light bulb moment. I decided that when I got back home I would be making a second appearance at Breakwater Park because I can't think of a better way to cool off after a long hot day (see wide happy smile me)! Except ice cream. They really should have an ice cream truck here.
When things don't go according to plan I hope you find your abandoned cabin in the woods to set you back on track
Earlier this year, on the eve of my birthday actually, I was having dinner with a friend and they asked me if I had ever had a year in my life that went as I had planned. I had never really thought about it until then. My childhood was not easy for a lot of reasons and making plans, having hopes, goals or expectations led to disappointment in the best cases. For the most part I learned to roll with the punches because that's what you learn in volatile environments. Those early experiences made me resilient and adaptable, two qualities I am happy to possess and that have enabled me to grow. But it took me a long time to be able to make plans, to learn to want things, and how to work towards attaining them. As an adult I have found that most things don't fit nicely into convenient boundaries of time, like a calendar, and some of the most worthwhile things I have accomplished have taken more than a year.
This summer I had planned on sharing many grand adventures, flora finds, nature encounters, observations from the field, ramblings from the trail, my thoughts from spending time in wild spaces, and so so much more! I hadn't anticipating this being a challenging plan, I spend a lot of time outside and I love sharing my experiences, it seems rather fundamental to me really. But things haven't gone quite as planned and I have become hesitant to express myself. This is a post I have been composing in my mind for months while I try to understand this situation. I have also been hesitant to express my thoughts on this because, well, I have experienced and overcame far worse things and I find this situation quite petty. Petty, but also terribly frustrating! I have been vilified by somebody who has never met me nor spoken a word to me, but who has read what I have written here and across the social media platforms I use. Somehow the things I have written have been used to create some terrible version of me that so palely resembles the person I am, so much so that I doubt I would recognize myself at all in this other imaginarium. The things I have written have also been contorted and used to negatively impact and control the lives of others. I've never dealt with anything like this, it is entirely bizarre and this type of behaviour entirely foreign to me. I have tried to be understanding, which has made me hesitant to write a new blog since previous posts ended up being fodder. When I have written I have chosen my words cautiously and written as neutrally as I could, which is kind of boring even though I am kind of a private person myself.
And then today I came across an abandoned cabin in the woods while plodding from plot to plot doing fieldwork at the Queen's University Biological Station. My first thought, because the above has been ever present on the edge of my mind, was that it would have been nice to live there at a time when you couldn't be stalked online! After tossing this thought to the side and in digging deeper, I think that this urge is part of a broader desire to disconnect from the constant barrage we receive online. But rather than an all or nothing situation, there is a balance that I strive for in all spheres of my life. We often idealize the cabin in the woods, and my generation is certainly not unique in doing this! I would like to have a cabin in the woods where I could walk out of my door and into nature, but I would like to have the internet so I could continue to share with you. Up until recently I had received nothing but warm thoughtful comments and experienced engaging conversations online. I have also always known that you can't please everyone.
While I assume this post will not go over well, there is a point where trying to be understanding becomes submitting to the wants of others and allowing them to control you, and I will not allow myself to succumb to this because I have plans. Despite the summer not having gone as I had planned up until this point, my first plan is resuming sharing my grand adventures again regularly. This experience has also helped me realize unequivocally that I want my kind of cabin in the woods, but this second plan sounds like the kind of plan that will take more than a year to achieve! In the interim, if any of you have experience with stalking, bullying or harassment online please let me know how you dealt with it. I'm hopeful to nip this in the butt so I can get back to spending my energy doing more enjoyable and productive things.
News, reflections, notes and other ramblings from the trail by PTBO Flora founder Rachel.