I was asked to write a column for the Free Press about my favorite place. The reflection gained from writing about my place made me appreciate it even more, I highly encourage you to spend a few minutes writing and reflecting about one of your favourite places.
The chirping sounds of the crickets, the stutter of the woodpeckers, the fluttering of birds on the water and the faint hum of distant traffic muffled in the background all combine to let me know I am in my happy place.
At 117 acres, Bois-des-Esprit in South Winnipeg, is the largest remaining riverbank forest in the city (who do I thank for saving this piece of heaven?). You may bring your out-of-town guests to The Forks, but I bring mine to the woods. The beautiful tree carvings created to enchant and surprise you and pristine wooded surroundings make even the murky waters of the Seine River look lovely.
While I frequent Bois-des-Esprit multiple times a week, no two visits are the same as this perfect space offers an ever-changing cornucopia of delights year-round.
Today, for example my canine companion, Cosmo-Dawg and I started out for a early morning run – with the moon behind us and the sun rising in front we began the familiar path. When what to our wondering eyes should appear but a black and white skunk and I said, oh dear!
Now Cosmo-Dawg had never seen a skunk before and was quite intrigued, Cosmo advanced, skunk puffed up, I yelled and we all ran. It may be peaceful in Bois-Des-Esprit but it’s never dull.
Often we will encounter dear in the woods or a fawn on the trail, it’s such a pleasant surprise and we all stop and look at each other and try to figure out who is going to move first. I feel like it is their space we are encroaching in, so I wait for them to make their move, feeling privileged to watch their white tails as they take a few graceful strides and disappear in mere seconds.
But it is not just nature you see while in Esprit, I see couples nestled on benches, hard-core runners with their ear-buds in place, I see leisurely dog-walkers with pooper bags in hand and I see geo-cachers far off the trail crawling around in search of a treasure. Mostly, I see others who are loving and appreciating this space as much as I do. I see no one that is cranky or miserable – no one, ever. It is a happy place.
Paddling through the woods, although challenging when water levels are low, is another fun way to explore. We have had to portage now and then and we sure scratched up the bottom of our canoe but it is worth it to have the opportunity to see the beavers and turtles and other water wildlife up close.
If you want to feel like a twelve-year-old again (not that I ever did this when I was twelve), hop on an off-road bike and take the monkey trails through the woods. Not only a test for your quads, these trails will challenge your core to the core as you navigate the tight turns around the trees and bump off those roots and stumps. Thirty minutes out there on the bike make this forty-something year old chick feel young again.
Off all the treasures that I have discovered in ‘my’ forest, Love Tree is my favorite, cast not by a human carver but by Mother Nature herself, this hidden gem inspired my year long “Love Everywhere Project.” Currently on day 342, this life-changing concept involves photo-chronicling love in the world, purposefully doing an act of service or sharing a story of someone who has done something loving. It has had ripples of positive effects in my life, in our community and even gloablly. Reaching far beyond my expectations, it further proved that some of my best thinking, idea-generating and productivity occurs in a place where I do nothing at all.
However you decide your enjoy time in Bois-des-Esprit (rollerblades highly discouraged and swimming definitely unpleasant – although Cosmo disagrees with the swimming part), I can guarantee you that no matter how you felt when you went into the forest, when you come out, you will feel different.
Without spending a nickel, without saying a word, your mood will be shifted and your spirit will be lifted by spending some time in this incredibly special place.
Bump in Shopping Carts on Purpose
Cindy Nachtigall intentionally bumps into others people's shopping carts, but when you find out why she does it, I think it will make you smile!
When Cindy notices a parent struggling with an uncooperative little one in the store, she will ‘accidently’ bump in their shopping cart and remark to the parent what I beautiful child they have and comment on how proud they must be. She finds that when she does this the energy completely changes and the parents seem to forget how mad they were at their child.
Love, love, love this idea Cindy. It makes me wonder how we can all change up the energy when the negative vibes seem to be winning.
A Few Ideas to Spread Love Everywhere
- Write some words of hope on some stones and leave them outside a hospital, school or doctor’s office
- Grab a bag and pick up some litter
- Send an anonymous card to something who could use a little pick-me-up
- Go put an unsolicited recommendation on someone’s LinkedIn profile
- Put a love note into your honey’s lunch, computer bag or car
- Write down 5 great things about your kids, try chalking it onto their bedroom wall for a big surprise!
- Leave a BIG tip, go ahead just once do it!
- On a deck of card, start writing down something you love about your partner (or child, or friend) – what a great gift that would be
- Help without being asked
- Do something you’ve been ‘meaning to do’ for a long time ie connect with a friend, take you Mom out to lunch