This hike happened because I was invited out! Yay, Denise and Yoav! I really enjoyed hiking with them and hope it happens more often. It was good that I was able to make them part of my trail. It also let me cover a slightly different piece. I wonder what will happen next? This, I must admit, continues to be a super cool adventure. (But I’m going to catch up on these blogs – it’s ridiculous that I’m still blogging September!)
Here is our starting corner and Denise, Yoav, and Jakey. This is bit where you realize that Hamilton is 90% hiking trail – at least to the discerning eye. Right in the center of the city is this beautiful trail. It’s a narrow band of trees perhaps, with parks or roads or houses on either side – but here, on the trail, with minimal suspension of disbelief (much less than needed in a super hero movie) one is on a hiking trail through the woods. And you know what woods are full of? Trees!
The Rail Trail, as can be seen from the pictures below, is truly a lovely treasure. From behind the university plaza (where we started) and onwards, there is a lot to see. (If you’re primarily interested in seeing a hiking trail, of course!) Oh, look a side trail…it’s a good thing I had friends with me or I would have taken that one without a second glance!
In fact, friends made the whole thing better. Although Yoav and Jakey biked off into the distance, Denise and I ambled and talked for a significant time. Yay!
The trail made a beautiful back drop for us and we managed to really enjoy ourselves. Even when the trail needed to wind through city things, it was pretty nice. Here’s a neat children’s park and street crossing.
All good things must come to an end, however, and eventually, it was time to leave the trail. We got off around Sanctuary Park. Another 2 km covered, for a total of 24 km.
See actual maps and pictures – way better!
It was time to walk again. I came to that place near one end of the RBG and began to follow along with the Great Trail. It was a beautiful day an I was determined to enjoy myself. This trip continues straight from travel blog 5 and I planned on another 1-hour hike.
I started out in good spirits, ready for adventure, but wondering why the path included so many streets. Surely, it should have more hiking trails?
Don’t get me wrong – the path was pretty enough. Just not a trail. I did see all sorts of cool things, though, like this lovely hidden house.
My daughter commented that my travel blogs are a bit on the funny side, being close to home, involving 2-3 km at a time an having very local objects. Well, this is one of the reasons I’m on this journey. That’s how I want to see Canada. (Also, yay! My daughter reads my travel blogs!)
The flowers on the fence let me know that once again, I was passing a cemetery – this time on the outside.
Luckily, I do enjoy a good walk through the streets. I like weird urban things too sometimes, like walking tunnels, graffiti and all.
After this I came to a gorgeous little spot by the water. Yay, swans! It was like a mini-park.
So, I was having fun with the pretty trail, and did not want to go back to the big road at the end of this path here. It seemed that I could follow the railroad for a while an then connect to where I was going quickly enough. I was so wrong, though! After a half-hour or so of wandering the railroad an not having a way off, I clambered back on to the street and went home. I am not counting that part – we’re just going to pretend it never happened.
Another piece accomplished! Yay! This marks 22 km of the journey.
Click here to see the actual blog with pictures and maps. (Really, do click. What’s an extra click going to hurt?)
One day, when it was still sunny and there was no rain and snow, I took the bus to Aldershot go station. That’s where I had walked to last time I wanted to fill in the Burlington/Hamilton piece. This time, I decided to hike for exactly 1 hour and then get back on a bus. This proved very effective. Here is my starting point, right where I left off before catching the bus to Burlington.
This worked like a charm and I saw some really pretty things.
Here is my starting point. It’s the same point I ended off travel blog 2 at.
Although I was walking along a road I thought it was quite pretty. I noticed lovely signs here and there showing me I was going the right way. Given how easily I get lost, they are always reassuring.
The road wound along until it turned, and the turn wasn’t bad either – but I was getting bored and there was a lot of near the road walking.
So when the biking trail I was matching turned into the nearby cemetery, so did I. I’m glad I did. Cemeteries can be really interesting, and this one was different than those I’d seen which had been mostly Jewish. I had never seen one with all these very bright little bouquets in rows.
I really enjoyed this part and enjoyed the company of other walkers and bikers and, oddly, ducks. It seems that this particular graveyard is a very comfortable place for ducks. I saw many of them, and with the other hikers, stopped often to let them cross the path.
When I had passed the ducks and cemetery, I found myself back on the road again, which was mildly disappointing except for these neat art shops. I didn’t go in, but I did window-shop, and one day, I’m coming back!
Finally, my trip was done. I was near the RBG, and excited to see where my next walk would take. 20 km, and counting!
Link with pictures:
Back in August, I did a few smaller hikes. Little did I realize that the problem would be, not the walking but the recording. I refuse to give up though. Somehow, I will find the time for both despite a busy schedule. I have a country to cross! In this particular hike, I left work and hiked for half my lunch hour in one direction. Then I walked back. Small – but I did it.
You might notice this from the time I walked to Hamilton. This is where I started. This time, I went the other way, choosing the quiet Burlington streets towards Toronto. I had hoped to walk along the water, but that wasn’t a thing. So I turned to the streets.
I really appreciated the city-hike nature of this little adventure. While it wasn’t exactly woodsy, after the “ahem – route verte” of Montreal, pretty streets covered in greenery and nice houses were a real joy to walk by.
It was obvious this was the abode of the wealthy. Some of those lawns… let’s just say I’m glad I never had to mow them. I loved the hanging baskets. How very thoughtful of you, Burlington. Although this wasn’t a long hike, it was part of my journey and so I noticed where I was when I ended. Some day, I’ll get back to that self-same spot.
Now at 17 km. Yay, me!
Click on link for real blog with pictures…
At the very beginning of August, I did my third walk on the great trail. Again, I walked with Josh, making 8 kilometres (yay! That’s 16 total…) and covering some of East Montreal. I hadn’t realized that some of the trail was beautiful, some of it was – rather ugly, taking me through ghastly industrial regions where I was hard pressed to find something to take photos of. You’ll say, “Anna, that’s not what your pictures show” but it is, really. It is exactly what they show, given how few of them there are. I took a picture any time there was something beautiful and inspirational and the fact that these are all the pictures I got tells you how little beautiful and inspirational there is in these 8 km. I’m going to keep going, of course. Just thought you should know. Walkers of the great trail, find a way around this bit!
Do click on this link. Most of the info is in here – pictures, distance, etc…
Elul 7 – Understand
It’s hard to understand the kids. They use different words to mean different things (like “sauce” to mean pass – really?) They present things in different ways. They don’t share my goals or my dreams. Things that I strongly dislike or that make me uncomfortable are perfect for them. And each different too! I can’t even say “kids these days” because all 3 of my big “I left home and I’m grown up now” kids are so different. Frankly, my small kids aren’t that small any more. With one already Bar Mitzvah and one about to hit the double digits, all my kids are “grown up” in their own very different ways.
And so my relationship with them must change – I hate change, but this year, it seems to have shown up as a theme. I need to listen more carefully than ever to them. I can’t assume anything except that I’m often wrong.
In particular I have to think the best of the kids. I must replace “they are lazy” with “they are taking the time they need” and “they are shiftless” with “their ambitions are different.” It’s easy for me to see very little things – a mess left in a room, a brusque comment, a delay in texting back – as a sign that their differences are wrong, that they’re careless and self-focused, that they need to be corrected and taught and advised.
It’s what I did for so many years! I tried hard to give good advise, set useful rules, teach correct lessons. Now, they don’t need that. They just want to be understood and accepted and loved. It’s confusing! How can I be there for them when sometimes that means giving them a great deal of space?
I know part of it is to keep reaching out, keep communicating, keep connecting. Building a bridge with my kids – I can’t imagine a more important activity. It’s also very rewarding. They are infinitely interesting, intelligent and successful young people. They are excelling in ways I never could (and making mistakes I never made, but that’s growth, right?)
Part of it is letting them set the timing, the content and everything else about our conversations. I need to be there for them – but just in the way they need me. If I push, I lose that connection. That’s a bridge I treasure – the fact that my kids can confide in me is what I feel one of my biggest successes is.
Most of it though is about understanding. I listen to them, I work to understand them, and I recognize the divine shining through them. It’s hard work – but it’s the work that I have before me. I may as well enjoy trying to understand.
So, wants – we all have them, they’re not needs, most religions agree they should be left to God, or at best sought in moderation. But what I want – at least what I want to talk about in this blog, is what happens when wants clash.
And what happens is anger. We don’t understand why the person we are trying to spend time with, communicate with, or work with in some way won’t simply do what we want. It would, really, be best for everyone. It’s just that they have a similar idea and so poof, anger, conflict, ick.
Now, don’t get me wrong – Anger is useful. It’s sort of like oxidation. It creates energy, sparks change, removes blocks. It’s powerful and effective, or at least – it should be. But oxidation is also rust and fire. It can destroy, slowly, one tiny bit of rusty nail at a time or rapidly in a huge conflagration.
Most people (myself included) are really bad at dealing with anger. We are way more likely to create rust and flames than change and energy. There seem to be two ways of dealing with anger – you can hold it in and keep it to yourself, or spew it out all over everyone. Holding it in – that’s my specialty – and that leads to rust. Soul rust is when the foundations of your dream temples are slowly eaten away, and you are unwilling to build, when you find yourself putting more and more walls on that temple to hide the rusty spots and to keep the collapse at bay. It’s ugly. At the totally wrong moment, the temple – now looking much more like a fortress – collapses anyway and in the process, self esteem and relationships have been destroyed.
Others (and I know them too – and you know who you are) light the world on fire with their anger, making sure everyone knows that they are UPSET. This is not much better, as it not only burns bridges between us and other people, but actually, it’s almost impossible for our own soul temple to not catch on fire, leaving ethics and priorities, courtesy and breath as a pile of ashes.
So what to do? God seems to frown on anger, sending plagues and swallowing people in the earth if they let it out – except when God encourages anger and tells us to fight for this or for that. Confusing. The Pirkey Avot says that they are strong who are slow to anger and can master their own spirit. Hmm. So, the first thing one must do is accept that one is angry – because our wants will not always be satisfied. We’ll get mad. We’re going to have to notice that and slow it down, and not react immediately. Then, it’s a matter of analysis. Is this the kind of case where our anger is due to a misunderstanding, an unhealthy want being unsatisfied, something we can fulfil some other way? Then we find ways to deal with that anger privately, to scrub the rust off the foundations, and do a bit of internal restoration here and there. We could write and tear up angry letters, punch pillows, go for a brisk walk, find a distant and private location and scream, visualize, make art – whatever turns the anger into something productive for us.
If the anger is motivated by something being truly wrong, on the other hand – an injustice, a lack that reflects a need rather than a want, someone’s cruelty or disdain – then we have a responsibility to act. The Torah is big on warning someone who is about to do the wrong thing and rebuking someone who is acting badly. The trick is to do so calmly, to ensure that our goal is improvement and not destruction. Embarrassing a person, using cruel pointedly sarcastic remarks to wound, pointing out flaws in public – these are totally against Jewish precepts. (If you ever were in Jewish Junior High with the Rachels, you wouldn’t know that and would actually think the opposite, but hey…) You need to find a way – a gentle but powerful way to use your anger to create change.
How can we help each other repair our soul temples instead of burning them down? It’s a daily challenge. Learning to work with anger – to neither swallow it into myself as the earth swallowed Korakh, nor throw it out to destroy others – that’s a challenge for this year. And getting that skill – now, that’s something I definitely want.
Elul 4 – Choose
This year, I’m making choices. For years I’ve said, “I don’t have enough time for that” and “I don’t have enough time for this.” I read something this month however that said, “I don’t have enough time” is synonymous with “This is not a priority for me.” That is a very different way of looking at the universe.
“I don’t have enough time to contact my friends” sounds believable, and almost valid as an excuse. “These people are not a priority for me” – that’s different. “I don’t have enough time to go hiking or canoeing or camping or enjoy any physical activity at all” – that’s just a bit sad. Poor thing. She doesn’t have enough time. If only time had been nicer to her. “Hiking, canoeing and camping aren’t priorities for me” however, sounds horrifying. Of course they’re priorities! What? What kind of life am I building here?
Every day, I have the same 24 hours. What will I fill it with? How much time am I losing to activities I didn’t choose, activities I “fell into” because of lack of time? It’s a bit scary to think that every little thing I do – from taking a drink of water to typing this very line is a choice of how I spend my time – a choice of what my priority is. And Judaism tells me I should think hard and deliberately about that choice. Judaism is big on acting with intention. There’s a whole word Kavana for acting and praying and doing whatever you do with intention. We are supposed to put all of ourselves into what we do, not simply skim the surface.
Sometimes, I need a rest! A break! And here too I have choices. I can pick breaks that meet my priorities or breaks that don’t, that waste some of those 24 hours. It’s easy to go on default – heck, not going with the flow, not going on default – that takes brain power and focus. (For most of us, walking along to the musac in shopping malls is automatic, it’s breaking that pattern that’s the challenge – for me, well, let’s just say that thing doesn’t work for me when it comes to music. When it comes to activities, however…) I get tired of that too and so I fall into patterns in which I’m doing things that are easy rather than things that are important or fun.
So, this year, I want to push slowly but firmly to change those patterns. I want to create new patterns in which, when I look at what I’m doing at any given time, I can say “this is a priority; this is exactly how I want to be spending my time.” That way, when I say “I don’t have time for this” I’ll be able to add “because it’s not a priority” without flinching. That way, I know I’ve made the choice and not whatever random dude picked the musac playing at that shopping mall.
Elul 5 – Commit
I should be committed! For thinking I have enough time to get any of this done…which I don’t. We’re moving tomorrow. However, this is one thing I do. I do it every year. It has become a habit, now in its 6th year. I think it’s a good and necessary part of my life. So, I make time for it – not a lot of time (I’m 3 days behind) but some. I find really tiny slivers of time and write one more line – put in one more concept and ideology.
Otherwise it doesn’t happen. You let something important to you go once, twice and all of a sudden it’s no longer a habit and you’re saying, “I used to do that back when…” It’s hard to maintain good habits – even if they seem routine, it takes work. And to do it when all is chaotic and crazy – that’s more than just work, that’s commitment.
I’ve always been committed to other people. If someone asks me to do something, I try to do it. If we have a regularly planned activity or outing, I try to participate. Doing my part in the flow of everyday is an important part of who I am. It’s been harder to commit to God – keeping up with prayer, with religious observance, with seeing and treating everyone as a reflection of the Divine – and I’ve had more trouble prioritizing that. Hardest of all has been committing to myself.
If there’s one place I need to do serious tshuva for, it’s the way I’ve treated myself. Basically, I either saw my body as a useful tool that did what I wanted, or an annoying piece of malfunctioning equipment that didn’t. I would never treat another person that way! (I know people who do.) So, I must not treat myself that way. Because the consequences have been dreadful. One’s body does not like poor treatment. It gets weaker and less functional. The heavy breathing, the lack of nicely fitting clothes, the difficulty moving, the difficulty sleeping – these all point to a body that needs help.
They make it less likely that I can meet my commitments to God and to others also. I can’t do as much with others if I’m always tired or unable to keep up. I can’t think about God if I’m busy thinking of a comfort or indulgence that will satisfy an incidental craving. Even a tool, to be useful, needs to be maintained. And my body is more than just a random meat sack which I can treat any way I want. In many ways, it’s who I am, it’s where I live. To continue the theme of the month, it’s the temple that houses my soul.
Caring for the physical is a very Jewish character trait. Judaism is extremely physical (I found) as a faith, and the idea is very much to have the body be a holy temple. Eating, sleeping, dressing – everything is supposed to be a holy task. That’s why most of them have prayers for before and after. Now, it’s my turn to do that – not just through adding prayer, but through mindful care for my body.
So, it’s time to commit. To find the time, to make it a priority, to do it for the sake of myself, for the sake of God, for the sake of other people. I commit to eating healthily this year, to fun physical activities, to changing my sleep cycles, to helping my body look good, feel good, and be a holy temple for my soul.