How to be an Explorer

If there ever is a time where boredom feels like my only season, I can always count on a day of exploring to lift my spirits. Stepping outside of myself, wandering to where sunbeams sit on the trees, peeking through binoculars, embracing my five senses, taking mental field notes and coming home to share all of my discoveries, this is how I cure the boredom blues and find happiness again. 

 I don't need an airplane or sailboat to get closer to the inner workings of an explorer's heart, all I need is an open mind and the desire to wander, even if it's only in my home town. Here is a little list I wrote on how to be an explorer, take what you can from it and always enjoy!

How to be an Explorer:

  • Pick a location to explore - this could be a forest, a trail, a public park, a campsite or even your own neighbourhood. 

  • Depending on how long your adventure will be.. bring water, a journal, your phone, a camera and a nutritional snack to keep you going. Let your family or friends know where you are going and when they can expect your return. Feel free to bring a companion with you, exploring is fun alone and with others.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. What kind of animals live here? What kind of ecosystem are you wandering through? What kind of flowers grow here? Describe what you see to yourself, as if you were telling a friend or writing a book. Observations are everything to the explorer. Take field notes or store them in your own memory bank.
  • Always be listening - open your ears to the birds, the creek song and the sound of grass when it springs about your feet. Close your eyes and let your ears do all of the work. Can you hear birds chirping? Can you hear cars in the distance? Can you hear 'silence'? How do these sounds make you feel?

  • You are equipped with senses. Use them.

  • Don't forget to remember the little things - tiny flowers, the grass tickling your feet, bumble bees, weeds, muddy paw prints, the way sunbeams land on treetops. Think about how every little thing makes up the environment you're exploring. 
  • Think about your mood. Do you feel sad? Do you feel happy? If you feel sad, try to think positively about the world around you. Let yourself see what is beautiful, what is good, and what is inspiring.
  • Ponder about the concept of time. How old are the trees or rocks? How old are you? Did the environment you're exploring in look like this before you were born, will it still look like this after you're gone?
  • Take photographs so you can relive your exploration on a rainy day, but remember to put your camera away every once in awhile, you don't want to explore everything through a screen. If you prefer to travel without your camera, imagine you had one in your palm, what would you want to remember?
  • Be careful. The wilderness is yours to enjoy if you tread carefully. Use common sense, read signs that are posted, try to understand that animals make a home here, follow your hiking level, know the weather forecast, don't trample over ferns, leave the environment as you first saw it.
  • Explore your own backyard or a place you've already been to before. Always look for something unfamiliar or new. 
  • Most importantly - Do not worry about taking the road less travelled by or following maps made by others, exploring is not about where you wander or how many people have wandered there before you, exploring is about how you see the path and how it changes you. The riches gained from exploring lie in what you discover inside of yourself. Enjoy! You're alive! You belong to the wild world around you!

 The Outfit
Dress  OASAP
  Hat – Scala from Winners
Binoculars – Belonged to my Grandfather
Boots – Value Village

The Location 
Ravine behind my house, Calgary Alberta Canada
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The golden grassland

It is hard to believe how fast time travels on by. One minute, I am wandering through a field where wild raspberries grow wide. The next, I am here in my backyard, writing in the garden, watching the August sky melt into the horizon. I still have thousands of photographs from our camping trip on the Island, but I have been too busy smelling the flowers and lamenting about their imminent departure to write blog posts.

There I was, running through the golden grassland, waiting for raspberries to ripen, listening to the whistling birds, feeling like a wide-eyed child with my teeth showing. It was there, in the field I speak of, where I could breathe and believe that summer had made a friend out of me. I forgot about time. I forgot about what I should make for dinner. I forgot about sadness. I was truly happy, to be alone in the golden grassland, to hear my own heartbeat, to feel like there were reasons for me to live and be well. When I am home alone, during the quiet hours, feeling slow or sullen, I dream of these moments, they are the seeds that grow an eternal summer inside of me.

When the sky was dimming and the light of day was soon to leave, I decided to take photographs in the field behind our campground. I floated into the golden grass and felt consumed by merriment. I reached into the raspberry patch with my camera and took a dozen photographs. I watched a flightless bird drink out of a puddle. I listened to the tall grass hissing in the breeze. I felt free, like a child who has tasted sugar for the first time, I wanted more, I wanted this feeling and this field to always be in my view.

As time went on, I started to feel more comfortable than one should feel in an empty field at dusk. I rested my head against the soil and closed my eyelids. I don't know why I do the things I do, being closer to the bugs and closing my eyes seemed natural to me at the time. It was in this moment I heard rustling noises coming from the wild brush. I told myself the sound was being made by a little squirrel, but I gulped anyhow as the drum of my heart fell into my belly. Just then, emerging from the tall grass like a gun slinging bandit, a plump and mystic raccoon appeared. 

Until this moment, I had never seen a raccoon before. I had only heard stories of them being terrible neighbours, the kind that destroy garbage cans and wreak havoc on the family dogs. I looked at him. He looked at me. I regretted being alone, I hated myself for being on the ground, I wanted to leave the suddenly grey grassland, I wanted to be carried home. I was consumed by a fear that can only be described as irrational, it was as if the raccoon really was holding a gun and I was cowardly in my efforts. I started running in the opposite direction of our campground. I hurried through the wild wheat. I prickled my legs in the raspberry patch. I came upon a family of deer and unlike my usual way, I couldn't be bothered to greet them. I was trying to get home but I was running further away. Step by step, it felt lonely and gathering my thoughts seemed harder than gathering unprepared raspberries. I was sore. I was tired. I was overreacting but the running continued.

At last, I came upon an opening in the forest that led me to the campground. Carter was chopping wood in our site when he looked at me and said "Where have you been? Why are you trembling?"  I told him the story, it was all true, except for the part about the raccoon having red eyes and sharp teeth. Just like a story-teller, I embellished and added jewels, because we all know a grinning red-eyed raccoon made my fears and flighted feet seem a little more sensible. After talking like I was running, out of breath and full of nonsense, Carter gently pressed his forehead against my cheek and without muttering a word, I felt brave again. It was him, I was home, I had a story to tell and I was ready for sleep.
Rathtrevor Provincial Park, you were an adventure.

 The Outfit
Skirt – Value Village
  Blouse – Value Village
Gardening Hat Sunnyside Garden Centre 

The Location
Rathtrevor Provincial Park & Campgrounds, Vancouver Island
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Bamberton Forest

 The forest floor was wet by rainfall when we arrived in Bamberton, Provincial Park. It is my belief that few things in life are as sweet as the scent of rain kissing the leaves of a thousand wild pine trees. When the rain finally stopped, we followed a path that lead to the ocean. The sand was wet like the forest and each corner of sky had rainclouds waiting for the right moment, we knew it would begin to pour again so we tried to enjoy the empty beach while we could. Within minutes of walking into the water, a seal popped its head up as if to say welcome, he was so close you could see the sea on his whiskers. I waved at him and watched him disappear into the water below, what a strange world we live in I thought to myself.

The rainclouds found their right moment as droplets of water started kissing the roots of our hair. We played catch in the drizzle until heavier rainclouds came, then we decided it was time to go home and cook us a pot of hot soup. We spent the evening talking to each other while rain splashed against the window of our van. We talked about music, sorrows, and the people in our lives that we love. It felt like happiness, a very cozy happiness.

On a hot July day, we drove into Victoria and found ourselves wandering through a flower garden. Roses of every color appeared like a gardener's dream. I turned towards Carter and asked him if he thought I would ever have a garden like this one, he replied, "With the way you love and care for your flowers, all you need is the land." I closed my eyes and saw a field where the sun was glowing over my flowers, there was no end to the blooms, no fence to tell me where I should stay put, only miles and miles of petals on stems and the smell of cooked soil. It was a hazy daydream, the kind that invites you to stay awhile, but you know you must keep on living as you always have. We enjoyed the garden, running from plant to plant, smelling flower to flower, until it was time for us to buy tickets for the museum and spend the afternoon learning about ourselves and the wild world around us.

My parents used to make a home in Victoria. They lived, loved and created memories together before their names became mom and dad. Their home was where hydrangea flowers burst into bloom, so close to the seawater my mother's hair was curled by it. I know in the soul of my mother, there is a dream of living here again. She was born for the ocean and I will do whatever I can to bring her back to it. Maybe one day, it will be here in Victoria where the garden in my hazy daydream grows.   
The Outfit
  Blouse – Value Village
  Butterfly sandals – Value Village
Gardening Hat Sunnyside Garden Centre 

The Location
Bamberton Provincial Park & Campgrounds, Vancouver Island
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