October 09, 2014 - 7:22 AM
Since we have been enjoying a First Nations summer, I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably clement weather and go for a walk in the woods. How pleasant it would be, I surmised, to admire the fall colours, smell the fresh mountain air, dangle a hand in a babbling stream, and savour the silence and solitude of the great Canadian wilderness. How wrong I was.
The colours were there, of course, and there was enough fresh mountain air to titillate the lungs of the entire nation, but as for silence and solitude, alas.
I suppose I should have heeded a full parking lot near the trail head, but I set off anyway, only to be overtaken almost immediately by a tightly-wrapped young person of the opposite sex who was wearing a headset and chatting loudly to someone on her cell phone. This is rude enough in any public place, but in the forest? If you really must converse, speak to a squirrel.
I found the babbling stream soon enough, but it turned out to be a relentless river of hikers nattering to each-other in loud, breathless voices. I thought perhaps this was a ruse to scare away bears, but soon realized that they were totally oblivious of their surroundings and wouldn’t have noticed a bear if it was dancing along beside them. I might as well have gone for a hike in the mall.
Eventually most of them left me behind, and I set off down a steep slope with no-one to witness my indignity come the inevitable contact of trail and posterior. Half way down I heard a yell from behind me, and turned. To my astonishment I was being approached at great speed by a bicyclist. I believe I may have previously expressed my frustration at these wretched spandex-clad idiots clogging our roads. That’s bad enough, but who on earth allowed them on a bloody footpath?
The bicyclist was clearly not able to stop, and we began the familiar, futile dance of indecision whereby he went right, I went left, and we both corrected at the same time, remaining locked on a collision course. At the last moment he swerved violently, disappeared into the undergrowth, and toppled over. His language became most colourful, so I ignored him and walked on.
A few minutes later I encountered another one of these menaces and it occurred to me that I could make the world a better place by doing my part to clean up the countryside. The dance of indecision, it turns out, is a surprisingly easy thing to put into effect deliberately, whilst still appearing to be a slightly lame and probably deaf, terrified old gentleman whom even the most arrogant, trail-owning bicyclist would attempt to avoid by steering into the shrubbery.
By the time I regained my car I was “five for five” as they say in sporting circles. I really can’t remember when I last enjoyed a walk so much.
— You should see the Grumpy Old Git on a ski hill.
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