Observation is a key element in so many of the sweet happies that crop up in our lives. Very often, as we’re going about our daily routines, our vision is out of focus; we’re not expecting to see anything special so, even when it is right there, smack-dab in front of us, we miss out.
One of my most tedious routines is travelling CR28 back and forth to Pbo and along that route my vision is, indeed, typically out of focus. True that I often detour to the west (Baxter Creek, Cavan Marsh and the Millpond in Millbrook) or to the east (Squirrel Creek and the Marsh at Squirrel Creek) but, I’m ashamed to say, even those delightful venues grow boring with repetition.
One of the best tools, and best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is the lovely Ingrid Fetell Lee’s guide to Joyspotting. It contains twelve opportunities to observe things that bring us joy whilst out on a walk or a hike. Those twelve also make excellent prompts for photography outings.
I used mine yesterday, mostly around Squirrel Creek, along the 4th Line. I went no where new, saw nothing extraordinarily unusual, but I did, thanks to the guide, experience twelve sweet happies and had a perfectly lovely day as a result. Here are my twelve moments of joy:
#1 – Look up!
#2 – Look down!
#3 – Keep an eye out for colour.
#4 – Follow the curve.
#5 – Go where the wild things are.
#6 – Seek out symmetry.
#7 – Search for signs of abundance.
#8 – Watch for weirdness.
#9 – Zoom in.
#10 – Notice the invisible.
#11 – Take the scenic route.
#12 – Use all your senses.
Last summer, on Healthy Parks Healthy People day at Presqu’ile, I hosted some underprivileged young boys from the city. I guided them through the marsh, pointed out all the usual suspects – Blandings and Snapping turtles, a snake, ducks, swans, a beaver, a couple of minks plus oodles of dragon flies and butterflies. I took my two older cameras with zooms lenses attached and helped them capture the creatures they most liked. I used the twelve Joyspotting prompts to encourage the lads to look all around them as we mucked our way through/around the marsh and as a result, a grand good time was had by all. Oh, the things they noticed and “discovered”…
If you’re looking to kick your hiking experience up a notch, I highly recommend taking the Joyspotter’s Guide along, trying to find something to record in each of the twelve boxes. You can’t go wrong!
’Til next time, y’all…