Missing the Forest

Missing the Forest

With the current pandemic raging around the world, we all have to give up things we cherish. I miss going for long walks in the forest.

Here in southern Quebec, my favourite parks have all been closed to avoid contagion. The sole exception is Mount Royal in the centre of Montreal, where the Olmsted Path is wide enough to let pedestrians, joggers and cyclists pass each other at a safe distance. Thank goodness for that!

If I tried to cross the border into upstate New York or Vermont, to go for a day hike or a weekend of hikes, I doubt I could convince US customs that hiking was a valid pretext for getting through. Besides, on returning to Montreal, I would have to go into quarantine afterwards, for 14 days!

They say absence makes the heart go fonder. And this current crisis makes me realize how much the forest is part of me. With Spring settling in, and snow melting in the heights and in the valleys, my inner calendar or clock is just begging for a hike. The rush of mountain rivers is something I can only imagine just now.

A mountain river, swollen by meltwater in the Spring

Hiking up to the High Peaks, whether in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Adirondacks of upstate New York, or the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is such a thrill. It is also a cleansing experience, and good for the soul.

Near the summit of Mount Mansfield

Then there is the perspective you get, from the heights. Everything looks and feels different.

A misty mountain forest at dusk

Nobody can say how long the restrictions will last. Even the cemetery on Mount Royal is closed to the public. By the third week of May, the flowering trees there are just magnificent. I wonder if I will be able to get there soon, and whisper a few words to loved ones in our family who are buried there.

A lilac bush in full bloom, late May, Mount Royal Cemetery

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