Adventures in your own backyard

Twelve steps in to your backyard…

I can hear the nostalgic chords of the Patrick Watson song echoing in my head as I pull my toque down tightly and step into the brilliant November sunshine on this Saturday afternoon. I’m off in search of an adventure in my own backyard, a journey to drink in all the glorious details that my neighbourhood has to offer.

The leaves lining the street sparkle in the sun, and the rays even lend a hint of warmth to this day that’s considered cold by our west coast standards. I pass people out with their golden retrievers and toddlers, everyone wrapped up in hats and scarves like me. My camera hangs in one hand as I amble along the sidewalk. My eyes sweep the scene for a picture, flitting from the branches framed against the blue sky to a bright orange flower growing at the edge of someone’s yard.

 It’s the second weekend in a row I’ve done this: taken myself out exploring the area around me, looking for the magnificent in what could be seen as mundane. This Saturday, it’s Fairfield—filled with heritage houses in bright colours along Moss and Linden streets, bordered by the ocean, home to Ross Bay Cemetery. Last week, I wandered through Fernwood. I bought second-hand books, read the posters at the Fernwood Community Centre, strolled through a community garden, and had a latte at the Cornerstone Café.

Didn’t need to go so far
To find what you were thirsty for

I have found in my travels so far that when you are in a new place, even the most ordinary things and moments take on new meaning. A lamp post in Paris becomes beautiful. An exchange of pleasantries with a bartender in Ireland becomes a story. An avocado in Malawi becomes a prized delicacy. I look at these aspects of the everyday with eyes tuned to the frequency of wonder, and so they become wonderful.

And so I thought, what if I looked at my own neighbourhood this way? Treasured the conversation I had with the owner of the little antique store in Cook Street Village? Noticed all the painted poles in Fernwood with the same bright eyes I travel with? I know that the streets I walk every week won’t ever be as exotic as those in a new city I’m just discovering, but I also know that there’s so much beauty in the quotidienne that I miss when I don’t look for it.

Try it sometime. Go for a walk with no purpose other than to explore. Step slowly and gaze carefully. I take my camera and a notebook to calm my pace and make sure I’m really looking. Smile at everyone you pass; enter a shop you’ve never been in and ask the person behind the counter a question. Turn down a street you’ve never walked before. Don’t worry about getting lost—that’s kind of the point.

Just right behind
Right up ahead
You just didn’t know
What was in your own backyard

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