A Walk Around Town

by breavman99


I was particularly cranky this morning, partly because I didn’t get enough sleep, and partly because I’ve been sitting at my little table day and night since we returned from Scotland. It was time to go for a walk.


This wasn’t going to be nonfunctional walking; I had errands to run (books to pick up at the university, things to buy at London Drugs). But one might consider it dysfunctional walking. After all, why walk four hours in the 30 degree heat when it’s so much easier to get in the car and turn on the air-conditioning? Because I’m looking ahead to the walk I’m participating in a couple of weeks from now, and I need to get used to walking in the heat.


I should have been thinking about the article I’m trying to write, but instead I considered the elm trees that grace the older neighbourhoods in this city. In some places they create a canopy of green that shades the entire street in the summer. I’d never seen an elm tree before moving to Saskatchewan; at least I didn’t think I had. Dutch elm disease had wiped out all the elms in my home town in the 1950s, where no doubt they were just as lovely as they are here. And the destruction of Toronto’s elm trees seems to have been taken as an opportunity to widen streets in the centre of the city. A few years back, though, I was walking on Wellington St. in Ottawa, just west of Parliament Hill, and there they were: elm trees that somehow escaped the scourge. Someday I’m going to see the forest of elms near Carrot River, which is supposed to be full of grouse growing fat on elm seeds, with an understory of wild grape.


There are elms in the park, too, but today there were few people walking or cycling on the paths under them. Maybe people think it’s too hot to be outside. I don’t know. Most of the people I did see were wearing green; the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing in Montreal tonight, and they are showing their support by wearing the team colours. Most of the people in this city support the Riders–except the ones living in this house.


From the university, I headed west, towards Harbour Landing in the city’s southwest corner, and the Grasslands retail development there. Grasslands is an asphalt desert, a good ten degrees hotter than the rest of the city. No one is caring for the shrubs planted around the parking lots, and they look like they are dying. I got what I needed–two HDMI cables: why do they just quit working without any warning?–and drank iced coffee in a noisy café. Then I started walking north. I was the only person walking. The lack of pedestrians explains why the city cares so little about sidewalks. Why bother, when everyone drives everywhere?


One of the things I wanted to do on this walk was try out the waterproof camera I bought when we got back from Scotland. It’s light, small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, and makes a lot more sense to carry than the monster that swung around my neck while we walked the Whithorn Way. Besides, if a camera is going to fail in the rain, it’s not going to be much good on a long walk.


I walked through a construction site and then up Queen St., where our allotment is, and I stopped to see how things are doing. The heliopolis and echinacea that survived the winter are quite happy. Despite my work weeding the path, the knotweed–at least I think that’s what it is–is back. I’ll have to return tomorrow to try again.


At the little supermarket on Hill Ave., I bought an iced tea and drank it as I continued walking towards home. It was pretty good: it wasn’t too sweet, and although it could’ve been colder, it hit the spot. I crossed the footbridge over Wascana Creek and carried on until I got home.


Tonight, we’re supposed to walk around the lake with friends. To be honest, I’ve walked enough today, but since we’ll be going to the pub afterwards, I think I can do a few more kilometres–that is, unless the thunder rumbling in the distance leads everyone to cancel. The rain could play havoc with the Regina Folk Festival and the Garth Brooks show, too. Or it could blow over. We’ll know soon enough.