What’s in the forest?

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A new year brings new experiences. At least that’s how I like to roll. Back in February 2014, I started working at The Pie Commission, which turned out to be such a fun place to be, and completely different from anything I’ve ever done. I started out in the kitchen, learning how to make the most flaky and buttery pie crust, and moved on to managing the production kitchen. Fast forward to the present, and I find myself walking through a forest of trees to get to the High Park Nature Centre. The building we are in was formerly known as the Forest School, a very fitting name. I’ve come full circle and am wearing my administrator’s hat again. I’ve missed this role, but I think I’m only recognizing that now because I have found this place. This place is beautiful. The location, the mission, and the people I work with, all contribute to the beauty of working at this place. From the moment I enter the park and take that short walk through the trees, I instantaneously feel this great sense of calm and happiness. Even when the skies are grey, the forest remains beautiful and magical. Time slows and my senses are heightened. I can hear the birds, and I hear the squirrels before I even look up and see them chasing one another high up in the trees. I can smell the earthy dampness. I love being surrounded by all of this. This is the complete opposite experience from many of my previous downtown jobs, where I would either surface from the underground (subway) and end up on crowded sidewalks, or disembarking from over-crowded streetcars and finding myself on a narrow island, sandwiched between streetcar tracks and cars zipping down University Avenue, and playing frogger as I attempted to get to the sidewalk. Once on the sidewalk, I’d be stuck behind slow walkers, avoiding cyclists illegally riding on the sidewalk, and people with strollers. Don’t get me wrong. I love the city, but given the choice, I’d choose the sounds of nature over urban traffic noise early in the morning. The earthy forest smells definitely beats car fumes and body odour at any time of the day!

It’s ironic that I work at a place that is filled with children, but I have quickly gotten used to their excited voices. I love the way the instructors are able to bring order to the group simply by calling out, “chick-a-dee-dee-dee”. The small group of people I work with are all amazing. It was evident from day one that they love what they do. They are passionate outdoor educators, and they are so good with the kids. They make learning fun. At the centre, we also have cool pets – a lizard, turtle, hermit crab, tree frog, and two snakes! My desk is next to a window with a bird feeder mounted to it, so throughout the day I can hear the fluttering wings and the sounds of seeds flying everywhere. I’ve been too busy to turn fast enough to catch a glimpse of the birds, but apparently there are all kinds that visit. I will have to swivel in my chair the next time.

The weather has been very strange this year. We’ve had snow, rain, and even record-breaking temperatures! Yesterday I only wore a fleece because it reached 18 degrees Celcius and it was full sun. People were sitting on patios after work, drinking beer. Today, it was rainy and temperatures came back down to 5-6C. These big temperature swings have been the norm this month. Climate change – it’s real, though Donald Trump doesn’t believe it.

Here are some photos of my walk to work – the changes through the seasons, except it’s all the same season – winter.

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