I’m grateful to be able to step outside my backdoor and into green space. I had to work ahead on a writing assignment over this long weekend, but yesterday I took a break to walk through Hanlon Creek Conservation Area, otherwise known as Preservation Park, which I can enter through our back gate.
I came upon a man who was tending a bridge over one of the numerous small streams in this park. He was shoveling soil from the adjoining field and building up the bank to make it less messy and impassible in the spring. I guessed he was a member of Guelph Hiking Trail Club, which maintains trails in the area. But maybe he is just a walker who loves the woods and fields as much as I do. I thanked him for his work.
I don’t take these parks for granted. For a number of years living in downtown apartments, I experienced barriers connecting with nature. Guelph has ample green space, and within five minutes I could easily walk to the Eramosa River or Speed River. And yet something was missing. Living where we do now, I have started to get it back. It has to do with being able to look out the window and see trees and birds, get my hands dirty, grow my own food and walk to a place where I can’t see any buildings.
This is a privilege. More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Most of them are not this well designed. A large proportion of humanity lives in slums or on land that is poisoned or impoverished. It’s hard to care about the future of the world when you’re struggling to feed a family.
It is hypocritical for us to develop cleaner energy or protect endangered species in our own countries unless we also support the welfare of people everywhere. Here in Ontario, our migrating birds depend on dwindling Amazon rainforests. Maybe we have more fresh water than anywhere elese, but our farming practices are slowly poisoning the largest lakes on Earth.
This weekend I give thanks because I’m lucky to live with such abundance. At the beginning of the year I set out to deepen my connection with the land by gardening every day, and that ritual has brought a tangible shift in my perspective and mental health. I am grateful for my own determination and ability to grow, for a supportive community and the natural beauty that inspires and rewards me. It gives me hope for my own future, and that humanity as a whole can change its fortunes for the better.
Happy thanksgiving to my family, friends and readers!