I’m a Cornwallite, born and raised, a resident of this lovely city for all but five years. To some extent it is true that when you live somewhere and see the same scenery regularly you become somewhat desensitized to its beauty. Case in point, I would not realize how much the St. Lawrence River was a part of my life until I moved to Bramalea, Ontario where the only body of water I saw regularly was a pond in the park across the street. On visits home, I would satisfy my longing by riding along Montreal Road just to glimpse the river.
Fast forward to 2020-21 in the time of pandemic where travelling becomes inadvisable but the need for distraction surges stronger than ever. As I sit here, my wanderlust forcibly paused, I feel grateful for living in a community surrounded by opportunities for outdoorsy experiences. At Cornwall’s northern perimeter lies the entrance to the South Stormont Recreational trail which can be walked or cycled as far as St Andrews West. To the east the beautiful Gray’s Creek Conservation trails beckon to be snowshoed or hiked. The southern boundary is graced by the Waterfront trail, the vivacious Lamoureux Park, and of course the colossal St. Lawrence River, ideal for fishermen or water sport enthusiasts. Finally, to the west Guindon Park welcomes us to its arteries of cross-country ski and fat bike trails. If our movements must be restricted, then I would have to admit that it is a pretty good place to be.
Some of the best memories of Outdoor Club events took place right here. There was the day at Guindon park where a skier amongst us wiped-out in the deep snow and couldn’t get up. The more he tried, the deeper he sank. We were laughing so hard that all we could do was watch helplessly. There was the time at Gray’s Creek just following a snowstorm where the trees were so laden with snow that we amused ourselves knocking it off onto our companions’ heads. And how could anyone forget all those intense dragon boat training sessions on the river! My muscles ache just thinking about it. So many simple yet significant memories were created just moments away from home.
Although restrained by circumstances, it is important more than ever to get out, exercise, and breathe the fresh air. Not only does it aid mental health but it has been shown to boost the immune system, and help reduce stress among other things. Let’s face it; we could all use some of that! For me the best defence for winter blues is to jump in with both feet, into the snow that is and to laugh in the face of coldness. Whether it’s building a snowman in the yard, taking a walk with a friend, or pulling out that old pair of skis for a glide through the forest, all you need to do is bundle up and go for it. Once you open that door and feel the glacial blast on your face, there is no turning back. Disclosure: Side effects may include rosy cheeks, a better disposition, a few lost calories, and a good night’s sleep. Are you willing to risk it?
Let home be that place that you long to come back to, the river you need to glimpse, and the memories that you will keep in your heart forever.