Last week, we were camping in Algonquin Park, part of a vacation we take each year at the beginning of August. Nestled in a transition zone between the rugged landscape characteristic of northern Ontario, and the more plateaued and agricultural south, it is an ideal spot to see many different ecosystems up close, working together in picturesque harmony (as nature has a knack for doing).
The park is known for its wealth of interpretive programs which educate visitors about the diversity of organisms that inhabit the area. Zachary is a bit too young for some of it, but I love watching Gregory lap up the information, ask questions, learn. One year, he developed a fascination for fungi. While on trails, we had to stop every time we came upon a mushroom to look it up in our field guide. Hikes took twice as long as usual, but I was delighted to see him take such an interest.
For me, the draw of Algonquin is in the opportunity to break away from the bustle and noise of populous cities and be in a place where the loudest sound one typically hears is the eerie howl of wolves in the moonlight, or the haunting, mournful call of a loon. Within minutes of entering the park, I can feel tension disappear from my neck and shoulders, and my heart beats a little bit more slowly.
Alongside hikes, our favourite activity while visiting Algonquin is canoeing out into the rustic interior, a section of the park unsullied by vehicles or nearly any other vestige of civilization. Time stops, the air is fragrant, and there is almost nothing to see but the illimitable wilderness before us.
Later, by night, far away from the light pollution of cities, the stars of the Algonquin sky are innumerable.
Today, I am thankful for nature, and for the sheer vastness of untouched wilderness in this spacious continent on which I live.
What is your experience of nature? Share it with me in the comments.