A Puppy Off its Leash

This spring is giving me whiplash.

Three days ago I went running in a blizzard.  But one weekend before that, the hillsides were ablaze with blossoms.

Hogg's Falls

I took the opportunity to go hiking on the Bruce Trail with friends.  White and wine-coloured Trilliums opened as we walked.


These flowers would perish of frostbite exactly one week later, but they looked very beautiful at the time.

My friends were in an easy-as-a-Sunday-mornin’ mood, and took lots of time to admire the scenery.


Look out, I’m a snake, you cultured peoples!

The trail wove up and down the scarp face.  Every so often, we’d come upon a delicious downhill section.  I’d leave my friends behind, and slalom down the trail, my legs twirling like pinwheels.  When I got to the bottom of the ravine I’d turn around and jog back up to meet my friends again.  I felt sheepish, like a puppy who’s escaped its leash but still wants to be loved by its masters.  My friends barely even noticed I’d gone.

After a couple of hours we came to a gurgling stream.  It meandered through the grassy meadow like lazy cursive, swooping around apple trees and ancient slabs of limestone.  The water glinted like diamonds in the sunlight, and when you looked down into it, you could see fat black tadpoles shooting back and forth.

It was an idyllic place, surrounded by hills on all sides.  It reminded me of an illustration from one of my all-time favourite children’s books, Stan and Jan Berenstain’s The Bears Picnic.

It’s the book where Ma and Pa Bear set off with their son in search of the perfect picnic spot.  They pass through forests, over mountains, and through cozy glades in pursuit of the perfect picnic spot.  They endure bugs and monsoons and nearly get killed by a train and almost fall off a mountain.

Come to think of it, their adventure is eerily similar to my novel, Ultra.  Except, like, the main characters are cartoon bears.

When we got home after the hike we ate our own picnic of scones and salted pecans and Brie cheese and Oolong tea which raised our spirits nicely.  Six hours had passed since we’d set out on the trail.  It felt like ten minutes.  The best days always do.

Note – you can find that gorgeous creek and meadow at kilometer 58.8 of the Beaver Valley section of the Bruce Trail.  It’s on map 26 of the Trail guide; just a few clicks southeast of Eugenia Falls.

Or, if you’re feeling lazy, you can have almost the same experience just by reading this book: