Next to the parking lot of our townhouse development, Park Place, stood a little forest that covered maybe a couple of acres.
The day we moved in, I thought it was part of Central Park, but it wasn’t. It was just a small patch of undeveloped land that was owned by BC Hydro. But I learned that other kids just called it “The Bush”.
I was always prone to exploring on my own, and tended to enjoy quiet isolation, so the first chance I got on a summer Saturday morning, I ventured into The Bush to check it out.
Walking in off the east-most edge of our parking lot, there was no fence or even curb to demarcate a boundary: the asphalt just blended into dirt and grass and ferns. With leaves and twigs crunching under my sneakers, I saw what looked like a slightly worn path, or a trail that was barer and more stomped-down than its surroundings. Stepping over a few small, fallen trees, I followed the path with a feeling of excitement and fascination, listening to each bird call, and freezing in my tracks whenever I heard another kid’s voice coming through the trees from the housing co-op next to Park Place.
It must have been many years (or maybe never) since I’d walked under a natural canopy. The air was cooler under the shade of all the saplings and evergreen branches and, looking up, I’d marvel at the luminous green leaves filtering the sunlight.
Each breeze brought a different succession of rustlings, whooshes, and stiff creaks. Occasionally, something high up in the trees would snap a little branch, and the brief moment of silence that followed was like the whole forest was holding its breath.
At first, it felt like I was walking in someone elses’s special territory, but after a while of being in it, it began to feel like my own.