30x30 Nature Challenge to get in better shape. It's turned out to be life-altering in unexpected ways."> Squashed cherry blossoms on the soles of my shoes | Notes from the Panther Lounge | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: Squashed cherry blossoms on the soles of my shoes

Fresh sand after the long Winnipeg winter made this my favourite childhood place.

By Gail Mainster

I signed up for the 30×30 Nature Challenge last year in part to support my DSF colleagues. But I also knew it would help me do something I was putting off: increasing my cardio. So I started walking to work every day. It takes about 50 minutes. And, yes, I'm fitter than I was before. And — YAY! — I've lost some weight. But this has turned out to be life-altering in unexpected ways.

I'm a city kid. I grew up in a 1950s Winnipeg tract-housing suburb. My family didn't go camping or hiking. Our Lake Winnipeg cottage had a microwave and air conditioning. Not rugged.

Still, I have early experiences with nature.

We always had a backyard vegetable garden. And I remember the fantastic fresh sand my Dad would order every spring for our sandbox — my favourite place.

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I also have a permanent visual memory of fragile, blue robin's eggs smashed on the sidewalk by one of the neighbourhood dads — a horrible man — who didn't want birds nesting in his eaves. Our community butted up against farm fields. And I remember a young hawk landing in our backyard dying of DDT poisoning, and my mother weeping over this tragedy.

Your formative relationships with nature are probably more adventurous than mine. Maybe you're doing 30×30 to support DSF or your colleagues — great reasons!

But I've had a full year of doing this and it's fantastic. I watch the neighbourhood on my route transform with the seasons. I've come to see Vancouver as a giant garden with incidental houses. These days I've got squashed cherry blossoms on the soles of my shoes. Take that, Paul Simon.

Now I recognize other regulars getting their daily dose of nature and we smile and share greetings. Maybe I'm becoming a neighbourhood "character"!

But this is how I start my workday. Pretty amazing. Every day, I feel connected to my community right now, and to those early memories — both joyful and sad. This mundane walk has profound meaning.

Someone drew a giant bird in the wet sidewalk cement on my route with the words "GO LIVE" — both pronunciations work. Get started on your 30×30. If you're like me, you won't want to stop after a mere month.

May 4, 2013

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1 Comment

May 05, 2013
8:05 AM

A lovely story with heartwarming memories. I have been watching the trees fill out and enjoying the birds’ song, as I imagine calling their babies to bed as the sun fades. We have arrived at another spring!

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