Author’s Note: The following is an account of my visit to the banks of the Bow River in early April. The image is my own .
The river is cold. Of course, one expects it to be this time of year, what with the winter melt flowing down from the mountains. Despite this, I am still surprised by how quickly my feet go numb when I dip them in the water. The majority of the river is still frozen, but there is still a thin layer of water over the ice that has bridged the little island and the shore. Someone has moved larger smooth stones to create a path and I make quick work of crossing it.
I always cross the river barefoot. I have a much better grip that way, and I cannot stand walking in wet shoes. Of course, this does mean losing feeling in my feet for a short while, but it’s a small price to pay in comparison to a squeaky trudge home.
It’s the first time I’ve been to the island this year and the water is bluer than I remember. As I sprawl out along a log near the shore my feet begin drying in the April sunshine. It’s the kind of light that you can feel kissing your skin. I close my eyes and the whole world is engulfed by the roar of the river.
I love my country most at moments like this. Truly, we live in a place that looks as though it has been plucked from a child’s storybook. In a world where resources are scarce, Canada is a land of plenty. And perhaps it is selfish, but I am exceptionally thankful for this. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without clean air or fresh water. I have heard stories of children growing up in America who do not even have trees in their neighborhood. I, on the other hand, am blessed enough to be able to walk through a forest to the river from my backyard. Not only this, but the water is so clear I can see through it like glass. Few in the world are so lucky.
A bird call breaks through the silence. I crack an eye open to see the sun hanging low in the sky. Time seems to have melted right before my eyes. I know I have to get going soon, unless I want to walk home in the dark. As I step back onto the ice and rock, I take one last look back over the island that seems to be a world entirely unto itself, I cannot help but smile despite having to leave it. Soon it will be summer, the ice will melt in the lagoon further down the bank, and it will be warm enough to swim.