At the park, Janet showed me some of the different plants. She would pick a Manitoba Maple seed to throw in the air, and the seed would go down spinning. That’s a way of how I would be able to recognize a Maple tree. She also showed me how a Maple tree will typically spread its branches, reaching around other trees to get sunlight. Lichens, which are collaborative forms of fungus and algae, grow on Maple trees, but the trees don’t seem to be bothered. She showed me chokecherry trees, with a black fungus on them. The black knot fungus (unlike lichens) will eventually kill the chokecherry tree. Poplar trees grow where water is, and so if I’d ever want to buy land, the Poplar trees will tell me where to drill a well. That’s what Janet told me. We also saw some invasive weeds – smooth brome and crested wheat grass. Janet pointed out the line of caragana, which indicated where a farmer had planted them for shelter around their farms and to keep the snow in their fields in winter and also the soil in summer.
On the trails, Janet showed me the tracks of mice, rabbits, and possibly a deer. We listened twice to what sounded like a bird, but we weren’t able to locate any.
After nearly an hour of walking around, we started to feel hungry. Where I come from, if I’d sit in a park to eat, that will be either on a bench or I’ll have to be prepared with a sheet. There were a few benches at Blackstrap, but we missed them, and also, I wasn’t prepared with any sheet. Janet didn’t seem to be waiting for a sheet anyways. She picked a nice spot in a grassy area where sun was enough and also where we could face the lake. She removed the food from her shoulder bag and then sat on it, and so I took out the food I had brought, and sat on my bag, too. We had packed some hot tea, tuna sandwiches, tomatoes, apples, cookies, and chips.
This was absolutely one of the most joyful and peaceful moments I had had for long time. There was a coulee a few yards to our left. Janet told me that had been formed by water running down the hill, and now it’s full of trees that are protected from the wind and also, they have enough water. Under the sun, facing the lake, and watching the trees in the coulee, I couldn’t dream of a better place to spend my time. I have to admit, though, if Janet had not chosen the sunny area, I would probably have hung out in the treed valley.
Sadly for me, the Blackstrap Provincial Park isn’t in a walking distance from where I live, but I think the peace it gave to me is worth the drive. However, if you check out other adventures on this website, you will find many natural areas that are accessible by walking or by bus.
– Ahmed Badawy