Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Walking Where Once I Ran... but at least I can walk

Coat: vintage; Shirt and jeans: Reitmans; Boots: thrift; Glasses: Polo Ralph Lauren
I didn't plan to take any photos for Sublime Mercies on this trip to the park. I hadn't dressed up at all and didn't think my outfit was even a little bit photo-worthy. But Beau said I simply had to do a post on one his favourite looks for me: Everyday Charlotte.

Now I'm kind of glad he insisted, not because I like my outfit (I don't), but because of the topic it inspired.

This park is quite near my home. Before my back injury, I used to jog to it, jog around it several times, jog from it to my local gym, work out, and jog home. On my "non-exercise" days, I would sometimes walk to it, walk around it, and walk home.

I thought of it as my park.

Now, I'm lucky to get a ride there and not be in too much pain after walking around it once. In theory, I can walk to it and around it from my home. I know this because I did it once last year but mostly that ability is a mere theory.

So going here is a bittersweet experience now. I still love the park in every season, but it is flush with memories of my days as an extremely fit, able-bodied, pain-free person. It is flush with the memories of the joy exercise brought me. I loved being fit. I did not take it for granted.

But it was a beautiful spring day and, bittersweet or not, I wanted to go to my park.

Even Houdini, the lazy local cat took the time to walk down his stairs to come say hello as we left my place.

That had to be a good sign, right?

These are the kinds of views that make my city so spectacular. This park is not in a wealthy or remote part of town. It's smack in the middle of what, for many years, was one of the poorest parts of the city. The beauty here is not restricted to those with money.

On my jogs, I used to pause right here at this spot as the trees beautifully frame the mountains. It seems art directed. I expect that the city's landscapers kind of do art direct this view. 

It hurts, though, to be reminded of what my body once could do, and the vastly different circumstances under which I used to look at this view.

Still, when I see a photo like this one of me walking, I am thrilled to see how far I've come. I look like I'm completely able-bodied here! 

I remember a friend bringing me here in the first year of my injury and, even with a cane, I could barely make it from the car to a bench.

I have come a long way. I wonder how much further I'll go.

And I'm trying my best to appreciate the beauty of my world even as I'm in pain. There is the bitter side, yes, and I'd be a fool to deny it, but there's the sweet side too. 

I mean, look at this tableau, with this root, sticking out of the ground like the Ogopogo. Whenever I look at this marshy part of the park, I imagine this is what it looks like in spots down south in the States. There are even red-winged blackbirds here!

I have every inch of the park memorized from my old jogging days. I know exactly where the muddy patches begin and end and how to circumvent them. Still, I wore my real muddy weather boots, synthetic and cheap, so I wouldn't have to worry about sullying them in the muck.

That's me walking again. It's a lovely site. It took me nine months to be able to walk a block (with my cane) so, yeah, it's pretty great to see myself really walking. I know I'll never be a jogger again. I've accepted that, but I have to walk. I just have to! And I can -- some.

Once upon a time this was an old mining quarry. When it was no longer used, some bright chap or chappette thought to fill it with water and turn it into a little lake. That's a model sail boat, not a real one, just to give you some perspective.

Occasionally it freezes over in the winter and city workers come and chop holes in the ice for the over wintering ducks. We have a lot of over wintering birds here. It's just not cold enough for them to bother migrating.

Hat: Jaxon; Shoes: Ecco; Glasses: Geek Eyewear; Jeans and sweater: thrift. Yes, Beau is thinking of expanding his wardrobe, but this single father of two is still getting used to spending money on himself.
Let's be honest, some things are actually better since my injury. I met Beau after I became crippled and I still can't get over how lucky I am that he found me. 

Would I rather be pain free and have Beau? Obviously. But that doesn't stop me from being grateful that I have him.

This park is dog heaven. One whole side of the lake is set aside as an off-leash zone. One kind of expects to come home with muddy paw or nose prints somewhere on one's person when one goes here.

Check out the poodle's inside out ear, and the happy greying dog, not really exercising, but remembering exercise -- kind of like me!
For many blocks around the park, you can see dogs straining on their leashes as they realize where they're going. And, for many of those same blocks, you can see exhausted, wet dogs heading home, happy and ready for a nap.

I really can't speak highly enough of the city's landscapers. They manage to make things look wild and random when, in fact, they are anything but. Canada in general has far more parks than I found when living in the States but my city is especially famous for its natural beauty. 

I didn't really know I was a nature girl until I lived in Queens and found myself starving for the site of a blade of grass or a tree. The local schoolyard was paved! Paved! Who does that?

Am I the only one who finds this tree a little... suggestive?

So naturally I had to pose with it.

Tee hee. Blush.
Beau had to pose with an equally suggestive tree. I shall let these juxtaposed images speak for themselves. 

Beau loves my glasses and wishes I'd wear them more. He says they're sexy. Since I wanted to really see the views, he got his wish. "Everyday Charlotte" indeed.

I used to call this spot The Cathedral because it is surrounded by trees that tilt inward, giving it a cathedral-like feel. Again, some little city elf has planted flowers in unexpected places.

Just what is the name of this bug? Do you know? Nature is fascinating.
If you know how to look, there is sublime beauty everywhere, from the micro...

... to the macro...

... to Beau ...

White gold and diamond ring: Birks; Coloured ring: who knows?
...who holds my hand when I'm in pain and when I'm well...

... and when the view is so spectacular, it takes our breath away.



  1. Such an open and beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. Your pictures are gorgeous!

    1. Thanks. You know, I had trouble sleeping last night because of my back pain and, when I was half awake, kept thinking of your blog and how cool it is. I think it's about time women starting taking back control of definitions of beauty and your blog is a part of that. I hope mine is too.

  2. This is John Hendry Park right?

    1. That's its official name, yeah, but no-one calls it that.

  3. Sigh. It really is spring in Vancouver, isn't it...

  4. Beautiful park and beautiful post. And those pup shots are fantastic!