today’s walk


Except for the daring blue heron that wades in the creek up to its icy blue thighs, and the black and white bird that watches from an overhead branch. No idea what it is. Magpie?  But we don’t get those here… I haven’t seen one since Edmonton in the eighties when everything was a revelation. I had a friend there who grew up on a dairy farm so we spent a lot of time in the country. That’s where I learned that magpies aren’t exactly the most beloved birds. Also, that you can drink directly from a cow. No middleman or cartons required. This was big. I didn’t believe it at first. Could not fathom that a tin bucket in the kitchen was what I was meant to ladle milk from for my Cheerios. One afternoon I took a walk in the back forty, picked some flowers, brought them inside, found a jar and filled it with water, a gift for the dinner table. When my friend’s mother came in she said Where did those stink weeks come from? It’s true that there was a very distinct and un-gift-like odour in the room… I’d assumed it was the fermenting milk.
But today’s walk.

Uneventful, except for the above and a dove too— just because the sight of them always makes me happy. They needn’t be doing anything and they usually aren’t; something about their shape pleases me, the way they look to the left, the right, left again, as if always curious, forever surprised at the sameness of things. And a blackbird soaring above yellow and crimson leaves, circling and dipping and dipping some more, just because it can. A sparrow hiding under a Toyota Camry, or maybe just keeping out of the rain.
And a man in his eighties, wrinkled from laughter, bright-eyed and sprightly, carrying two logs from the back of a house where I hear a chain saw working. He tells me he’s looking for volunteers to help… I tell him I’ll help him look, send them all his way. I circle the block and when I pass his house again, he’s there carrying more logs. He laughs, calls out, says in a wink-wink tone, “You haven’t forgotten where you’re going have you??” I realize the fact that I’m carrying a full shopping bag makes it look as though I should be heading home with my groceries, not strolling about the neighbourhood. I don’t tell him the bag is full of litter… I’m simply pleased that I’m finally worthy of insider status to an octogenarian’s joke…

6 thoughts on “today’s walk

  1. Can’t tell if your magpie has a punk hairdo, in which case he could be a Belted Kingfisher??? He’s certainly sitting in a favourite Kingfisher pose–on a branch over the water.

    1. I googled some photos of ‘Belted Kingfisher’ and they appeared more blue/grey/white than black/white so I enlarged my own photo and… yes, it seems that what I took as black and white is, in fact, more blue/grey/white. So I believe you’ve nailed it, Ms. Z.
      I’ve only ever seen them on hydro wires on country roads so this was quite a surprise. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more…
      Thank you!

  2. Me, too, had a heart-warming encounter with an elderly woman when I was out walking yesterday. She was standing outside a subway station and flapping a hand at us. With a German accent she asked for the name of a street which we knew was nearby, but not sure where. Robert stepped inside the station to consult a map. I told the woman I spoke German. We had a great jabber. She was going to an art exhibit of a young man she’d met at her sports center. He used to sketch the women at their exercises. She wanted to see his show and had made her way across the city. The gallery was at least a 20 min walk away. We couldn’t believe how adventurous she was. Ja, ja, she said. I like to support young artists. We walked with her to the easiest street which she only had to follow down the hill and across the canal. Still a good hike ahead of her and it was drizzling. But she was so enthusiastic. When we parted, she asked if I could guess how old she was. 93!

    1. She sounds divine. Weren’t you tempted to take her home with you?? Dreiundneunzig. Imagine! And a patron of young artists. Thank you for this story, Alice. It/she is an inspiration. I’ll bet she was as thrilled [and surprised] to meet you, kind, helpful, friendly AND German speaking. I hope you see her again in your travels. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to discover that she kept a blog? If so, let me know. I’ll be signing up.

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