Today my in-box held a depressing surprise. An email from MSF, reminding me that I’m participating in the Walk Without Borders. While I haven’t forgotten about the Walk Without Borders, nobody’s contributed to my campaign in the past 7 days. So MSF wonders what is going on. Am I in or what? The email contained helpful suggestions for spreading the message about my walk (Facebook-ing about it, sending a mass email, making an FB campaign page, etc.). These are all things I’ve already done.
I guess I should pause my thoughts for a moment here and remind you all again: I am walking to help raise money for MSF Canada (AKA Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders). I am very concerned about Ebola virus in West Africa and strongly feel we must continue to support MSF’s presence there. You can link to my campaign page here.
I know that people today are generally “giving-ed out.” I get that. You can’t go to a grocery store or buy a book at Chapters without being asked to give a dollar for this or three dollars for that anymore. And it’s hard to say “No” to all those little things. There are probably many days I end up giving away even the spare change I’d squirrelled away for an extra loaf of bread. Afterall, who can say “No” to that cute little Girl Guide from next door?
We’ve also all been giving lots of money lately to good causes like our kids’ schools, and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Not to mention the walks, bikes, and half-marathons that many of us join in on in summer and fall to do wonderful things like help cure cancer, take back the night, and whatever other thing strikes us as a noble and worthy endeavour.
For my part, I picked THIS endeavour. I am still walking. I think the cause is worthy, and – although my feet are old and ache sometimes and my legs are covered in scary old lady things like varicose and spider veins these days – I figured I could probably do this thing. I can walk 100 kilometres by October 30th.
I also figured that the walking would be the hard part. It’s not. The hard part is getting people to contribute to my campaign. And I feel terrible for even asking, even though this money is by no stretch in any way for me personally.
When it comes to giving, I think what it boils down to is whether it’s fun or not. And having somebody make you feel terrible about what’s happening in the world is not fun. We don’t want to feel terrible about things. We don’t need yet another guilt trip. Afterall, the misfortunes of others, by and large, have little to do with us. We’re in no way responsible.
What people like is to feel good, maybe even laugh about it all. The ALS Society is swimming in loot right now precisely because the Ice Bucket Challenge is FUN. So, here’s a good question I’ll pose sincerely to you all: HOW CAN I MAKE MY CAMPAIGN FUN???
I want my walk to be like those guys’. Funny and engaging. So should I walk in armour? Nah. Been done.
I am willing to be silly, confessional (as y’all know!), or to go to lots of trouble – pretty much anything as long as only my own dignity is affected – to get you all more involved in this process. So what would you like?
I had thought of a few things, like perhaps walking my mom’s walk in the dress I’m wearing to Drew’s wedding (I’ll be in Newfoundland again in a week and a bit, so that would be very do-able as a silly thing the day after the wedding). Then I thought of how that might embarass my parents (Glovertown is a small town and people tend to pass judgement on anyone who appears to be making a show of themselves in an way, so…). I also thought I could do the Ice Bucket Challenge in my dress (who care if I ruin it in the process?), but I want to raise money for MSF. This is not about ALS. Also, it begs the question: Who is it exactly that’s holding back their donation, waiting for the moment I do something like that? And am I really that interesting or funny? And is this about my Facebook feed on some level? Who knows.
For now, I’m going to leave you today with some pictures and thoughts from my most recent walk along the Ottawa River. At least I can share my enjoyment with you, even if it’s not via an outlandishly attention-grabbing and over-the-top youTube video.
For starters, the mood music playing in my head as I left for my walk this day was something like this…
(Okay, so there WAS a youTube video. Sort of…)
It was a beautiful day and I was, for the moment, contractor-free and able to leave the house. I knew the last-minute decision to grab my camera was going to slow me down and ruin the ground-rules I’ve generally adhered to for my walk (keep going, stay in the flow of it, don’t get distracted – it’s not photography or bird-watching time!). Oh well – what the heck! I decided to let myself live a little for once. I’ve been shut up in the house too much lately.
For starters, I have to admit, I’m a little spoiled. My walk is along the Ottawa River, on the NCC (National Capital Commission) Bikepath. The bikepath is many kilometres of scenic trails that comprise part of our region’s contribution to the Trans Canada Trail. I’ve walked different parts of this trail different times in my life and I have to admit, I think walking the whole trail (“from sea to shining sea”) someday after its 2017 completion date would make a hell of a retirement project.
For now, I’m one of the lucky ones. My city is hooked up to the TCC and our trails are mostly paved and well maintained. The Ottawa area, in fact, can boast hundreds of kilometres of beautiful walking and hiking paths.
Like most cities, we could be doing a better job on keeping our water-way clean, but I must say I get annoyed hearing people crack nasty jokes about how dirty and disgusting the Ottawa is. ” Really? Have you been there lately?” I go there a lot and my OPINION is that – despite being a little on the murky side – the Ottawa River is a living system where nature continues to thrive. And it’s beautiful to boot.
In fact, not so many weeks ago my children and I were playing in the water there and we picked up a baby snapping turtle, struggling to swim along inspite of the current and the day’s strong winds. For a little while, we admired him swimming in the beach pail I’d scooped him up in, then my son considerately made sure the other children at the beach got a (respectful) viewing opportunity too before we released him, unharmed, back into the Ottawa. I’m sure he was on his way to dig into the river’s sandy bottom and find himself a spot to sleep till spring.
I love my walk!
I love to swim and be wet generally, so as I walk any place there’s water I hear that familiar siren song. In Newfoundland I longed to jump into the ocean (or be out there on a boat!). As I walk along the Ottawa, I crave a swim in the warm sandy-bottomed river (which is actually a lot more practical than jumping in the North Atlantic). And, sometimes, I pass folks along the water’s edge who are actually preparing for a dip. But my walking rules generally keep me moving forward instead of getting wet.
Hmm, maybe I could join my friend Kim and train for that triathalon afterall!
Taking the day off from “serious” walking means I get to check out some of those little “roads not taken” (by me, at least) I always pass. So today I slip down all those beckoning little pathways. I find my way back to the water’s edge a million different ways, all of which have something new to offer. As I do so, I check out the view of the Champlain Bridge from every new shoreline. It’s fun to watch it getting closer and closer.
The Champlain Bridge is one of the main arteries that joins Ottawa, Ontario – on one side of the Ottawa River – to Gatineau, Quebec, on the other side of the Ottawa River. The bikepath goes under the foot of the bridge and continues right along my side of the river, while the cars crossing the bridge whiz by overhead.
Usually I just stay on the bikepath like a good little girl. Today I am a hungry photographer!
Finally – despite all my dilly-dallying – I arrive at my goal. The Mighty Northern Red Oak With the Sign.
I like that the sign calls my tree “a hardy northerner.” That fits in with what I’m all about so well. And – like the Pitcher Plant for Newfoundland – the Northern Red Oak is somehow a fitting symbol of (in this case) Ottawa and its people. Soon we’ll be buried in many feet of snow for months and months again, but we’ll do fine.
I have a great book about trees that has a lovely section about trees as part of religion and mythology. I read there about Tree Spirits, Dryads. A dryad, in Greek mythology, was a female spirit that inhabited a tree, typically an oak. Looking up at my tree it’s easy to imagine where ancient people could have come by such an idea. And I always greet my oak tree in some way, just in case they’re right.
On the day in question I sat under my tree and put my feet up for a while, but I won’t bore you with the pictures. Already it’s time to head back.
The day has changed. The sky is moodier now. I feel relaxed and loosened up from walking so much already. I set my camera to “rich tone” now and set some new theme music in my head as well.
My whole hike today I’ve been trying to get some pictures of birds. I’ve seen great images of cardinals, blue jays, and sparrows through my viewfinder today, but always seemed to snap a moment too late. On the path ahead there are some crows. My last chance for a shot of a bird in flight!
I take a few more pictures of the murder of crows (I LOVE that a group of crows is called a “murder”, don’t you?), but I never manage to get any good ones. For good measure, I take a picture of me, looking annoyed.
Okay, so that photo’s kind of funny. At least you can find the subject in it.
I almost forgot to tell you about the Inukshuks. I guess it’s another one of those “Ottawa” things. Folks here love ‘em and I have been meaning to tell you one day about this certain character who hung out down here all weekend in the summer. A gentleman a certain age who liked his beige (!) Speedo a lot and smoked smelly skinny little cigarettes as he built Inukshuks all day long. For fun, I nicknamed this man “Cigarillo.”
The fall colour makes me wistful. I zoom my camera the full 21X’s and take a picture of the trees on the Quebec side. But my camera really wants me to shut it off now. The battery needs re-charging.
Even though I have been trying to do a “walk with a point” lately, my walk continues to enrich my health, my day, and to bring me so much pleasure. And so, it was my pleasure to share a walk with you, just this once. Perhaps one day you will come to Ottawa and try my walk along the bikepath in real life. It’s a beautiful city. Really underrated.
All for now,