Ode to a nature commute – part 3, spring

Spring 2019 green-up along my bike route. (Photo by Gayle Roodman/NCC)

Spring 2019 green-up along my bike route. (Photo by Gayle Roodman/NCC)

May 28, 2020 | by Gayle Roodman

This is part three of a four-part series on bike commuting through nature. Read part one – fall here and part two – winter here.

Ahhhh, spring. As a winter bike commuter, I do look forward to spring so I can shed some layers, remove my studded tires and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. The additional daylight puts a skip in my step (or is that air in my tires?). But even more so, I am eager to watch the trees green-up (seemingly overnight), the return of the birds, the arrival of the too-cute-for-words goslings, and the first crocuses to make an appearance.

Springtime in Alberta is complicated. It’s not uncommon for it to be misleadingly warm one day, fooling the trees that it’s time to bud, and then the next day those same trees are covered in a light dusting of snow.

Come spring, and after a long, cold winter, I feel a sense of communion with the stalwart mallards and Canada geese that hang out in the tiny eddies along the banks of the almost-frozen Bow River over winter. I feel like high-fiving (high-winging?) them as I ride past, saying “Phew! That was a tough one!” It’s like we were all just hanging on, knowing that the thaw was imminent.

But this spring was different.

I, like many, many other people across Canada and around the world, have been working from home since mid-March. My commute is now only two metres down the hallway.

While I am thankful that I can comfortably work from home, I do miss my daily commute through nature. By the time the coronavirus has run its course, it could be June, which means I will have missed the entire spring biking to work.

So, what’s a girl to do in the meantime? I’m taking my nature commute to the pathway near my house, on foot. Ensuring the requisite two metres between me and anyone else I may come across, it’s a five-minute walk from my front door to a narrow trail that follows the fast-flowing Bow River. As I slowly wander down the steep hill to the river, the smell of the thawing earth (and the mud caked to my hiking shoes) reminds me that spring really is here.

Gosling gaggle from spring of 2019. (Photo by Gayle Roodman/NCC)

Gosling gaggle from spring of 2019. (Photo by Gayle Roodman/NCC)

As I near the train trestle, there’s an eddy where the geese and ducks hang out. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to catch sight of the adorable, yellow, fluffy orbs of new-born goslings. I watch the green-up of the bushes and shrubs that line the path. Across the river, it’s not uncommon to see people fly fishing.

This nature commute really isn’t much different than what I experience on my bike. And for that, I am grateful.

Gayle Roodman

About the Author

Gayle Roodman is the manager, editorial services at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Gayle Roodman.

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