When I feel particularly adrift, cast about on waves of uncertainty, ambiguity and loneliness, I take myself to a favourite park. It steadies me, the way a good anchor does. After a couple of hours of rambling in meadows and woods, walking the headland path along the lake, standing on the banks of the pond, I am satisfied. Ripples of joy spread around me. This cannot be helped; there is motion everywhere in this park, even when I am standing quite still.
Birds flit about in the tree branches, sometimes so quickly I am not sure if it’s wind or feather rustling the leaves. Bunnies scamper along the trails, and mink and muskrats slipslide through banks of reeds and marsh grasses. Skunks snuffle for grubs under the leaf litter.
I never know what I’ll see when I wander through the park, which is one of the reasons it anchors me. I love anticipation. I love spring partly because it means summer has yet to come; Christmas Eve because it holds the promise of Christmas Day; a walk in a park because who knows what gifts creation will share with me on any given day?
Anticipation is one of the pleasures COVID has diminished for me. Here in Ontario, we’ve spent months in repeated lockdowns. Each time the lockdown is extended, it squashes the hope that what I am missing will be recovered. Visits with friends and family who live far away; lunch with colleagues at the kitchen table in our office; hugs. This pandemic will come to an end. I know this is true. But it’s gotten harder and harder to anticipate when that wil happen.
When I sense my capacity to anticipate good things drifting away from me, I reach for the rope that tethers me to this park. I pull myself toward it, the way one does when reaching for anchor.
The park never disappoints me. It always shares something with me, something I couldn’t have experienced had I not been moored to this particular place for these particular hours.
So I go there, anticipating what might happen while I’m there. Perhaps I’ll catch sight of the Yellow Crowned Heron everyone has been posting about on the park’s Facebook page. Perhaps I’ll hear the daily concert performed by the little Yellow Warbler who seems to fancy a particluar stand of trees as his stage. Perhaps I’ll breathe the scent of Honeysuckle as its delicate petals unfurl for the first time this spring. Perhaps I’ll find a new trail to explore. Perhaps. Perhaps.
I reach for my anchor, anticipation rising as joy ripples around me.