Deep in the 700-acre wood…

At the edge of the Aylmer Sector of Gatineau lies a priceless gem of nature: 700 acres of undeveloped forest. While developers would dearly love to get their hands on this tract of land, a group of citizens has formed that is determined to protect the area — and with good reason. Home to more than 400 plant and animal species, the Boucher Forest is a last bastion of wildlife, an incredible educational opportunity, and an unparalleled place for communing with nature on the city’s very doorstep.

And like most forests, it’s filled with a special kind of magic for those who are willing to look a little deeper into the trees…

Snow-laden branches

Snow-laden branches

Looking way up

Looking way up

The silent fallen

The silent fallen

fresh snowfall

fresh snowfall

My almost-faun

My almost-faun

Edge of the meadow

Edge of the meadow

Gateway to Narnia

Gateway to Narnia

Snowy sentinels

Snowy sentinels

Barred owl keeping watch

Barred owl keeping watch


Making Tracks

One of my favourite things about snowshoeing is being able to get off the beaten track and forge my own trails. Yesterday Charlie and I trekked right across the middle of the marsh (he had a good sniff around the beaver lodge!), through drifts that all but buried him, and right through undergrowth dense enough to have us clambering over deadfalls and squeezing between saplings.

This is the first year I’ve used poles for snowshoeing, and now I can’t imagine why I didn’t think to do so before. They’re invaluable for keeping my balance, holding aside branches, and fending off Charlie when he steps on my snowshoes while walking too close behind me. That latter bit doesn’t happen very often, though, because he’s tall enough to do much of the trail-forging all by himself. 😉

making tracks

making tracks2

making tracks3

making tracks4

 


Secret Paths and Icy Walks

According to the meteorologists, we had our first “major winter event” in the Ottawa region the other day. Why it had to be a freezing rain event, I don’t know, but there you have it. And honestly, while it was a little messy at the time, it really wasn’t all that bad…though it does still make for some interesting walking out there.

On the other hand, it has also provided a certain sparkle to the landscape, which is nice. See? There’s always a bright side if you look hard enough. 😉

Oh, and another bright side? With the leaves gone and the ground dusted with white, Charlie and I are finding all kinds of new paths in the woods that we’d been walking right past all summer long, some of them leading to places I didn’t even know about. It’s as if a whole other, secret world has come to light. Very cool. 🙂

secretpaths7

The water is so cold that it has visibly thickened and slowed.

The water is so cold that it has visibly thickened and slowed.

River's edge

River’s edge

An icy coating

An icy coating

Secret paths

Secret paths

Frozen marsh

Frozen marsh

Beaver lodge

Beaver lodge


Breathing Close to Home

Not far from our house, Charlie and I have discovered a secret walking place. Well, not too secret, visible as it is from both the golf course and the shopping centre that border it , but still…it has that air about it, perhaps because so few people seem to use it.

This, combined with its sheer convenience, makes it a favourite go-to place when walking time is short. From our home to the pond at the back of the golf course and back is about an hour, a good portion of which Charlie spends off-leash (to his great delight). Because we walk it so often, it has become for me a study in changing seasons. This year, a lush spring gave way to the brittle heat of a drought-ridden summer; now, the parade of colours and textures that make up autumn have taken hold.

On one of the paths, wending its way through a grove of trees, someone has placed a bench. It’s the perfect place to pause for a few minutes. To reflect. To remember to breathe.

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