Sunday, October 14, 2012


All photos Assiniboine Forest, Winnipeg, MB. October 13, 2012.
* * *

We walked in the forest today, in the fall sun, in the cold breeze. And I spent much of the time struggling to get comfortable. I was too warm, in my shell, a fleece, and a long-sleeve shirt, so I irritably added and subtracted layers until I found something I could live with. And then my hair kept on getting in my hair and my eyes and I didn't have an elastic with me, despite finding them tucked in pockets for days. I tried tying my hair in a big knot but when that didn't work, M loaned me a strap from a piece of gear.

But, after last week's rain, there were a few new mushrooms. And I had a perfect cup of tea. And I was happy to be taking pictures...

So it was a stuttering start/stop walk: irritable/happy/irritable. Everyone's dog was off-leash, which readers of this blog will know is not a favourite situation of mine. Luckily, only one dog looked as if it was considering attacking...sigh.

And then we found what looked like the starting point to last week's brushfire: a bonfire, surrounded by smashed bottles and empty four-litre pop bottles. And, of course, burned-out woods.

The fire had been built at the end of a footpath from nearby houses into the forest. Which leads me to believe that it was Charleswood teenagers who built a fire, smashed their drinks, and then either improperly put out their fire or were unable to stop its spread through the very dry forest...

Hours later, I'm still angry about that. Even though the fire didn't likely do much damage beyond clearing away the accumulated underbrush, I'm angry at the carelessness. I'm angry that people go to natural spaces, shared spaces, and all they can come up with is...smashing and burning. 

"People get carried away, Mom," the girl said as I walked away from the fire, scowling.

"I don't care," I said. And I really REALLY don't.

Now, I'm no saint. I pick mushrooms, mostly to make spore prints from but a few to eat. I go off-path and probably disturb the resident herds of deer. When I was rearing monarchs that summer, I picked milkweed in the forest because I didn't know where else to get it.

But the forest is one of the few places in the city where I feel fully at home. I'm part of a community that uses the forest, that works to keep it as a public space. So I try to minimize my impact on the forest, to think of everyone else using it besides me.

So burning it, on purpose, is probably the worst offence I can think of. ...

Ironically, the worst-burned area was where an airplane went down in the forest in 2000. The ground there had been criss-crossed with logs just burned enough to prohibit either growth or decomposition. So they'd stayed where they'd fallen in the dozen years since the crash razed the area.

By this time of year, the clearing would usually be filled with blonde chest-high grasses. If you wanted to cross it, you had to sound for logs with your feet or risk tripping every few feet. It was like wading through a pond with downed trees just below the surface.

And deer liked the clearing and the trees that surrounded it. It was were we saw the moose that time. And there were a few logs there with well-established clumps of slow-growing club lichens that I liked visiting.

So. Good walk. A few good pictures. And, also, faint despair...

No comments: