There are 1.15 million people living in Calgary. That’s a lot of people. For seven years I’ve lived in rural and small town locations and after moving back to the city I’ve realized just how full of constant stimuli cities are. Cars, buses, people’s conversations, dogs barking, cell phones ringing: there is always noise. You’re eyes don’t get a break either and with that your mind is always on: traffic lights, store windows, signs, right down to the little ‘Don’t Walk’ guy- you are constantly taking things in.
That’s why it’s so important to have green spaces. From the small park at the end of your street to the preserved park areas and all the benches in between, those spaces are spaces of serenity. They are reminders to take a moment and rest your body and your mind. I love walking through cities and finding them and I’ve discovered a lot of them recently in my new home of Calgary.
Those last few weeks of grey skies and snow, plus a heavy online work load meant that I had to stay close to home. Rule number one of working from home is to get outside every day. It is far too easy to get engrossed in work and have the whole day go by without having a breath of fresh air and unplugging. So I usually end my stay-at-home work days with a walk.
In the past going for a walk meant that within 5 minutes I was off a road and walking in amongst nature. Whether it was beside water, in a forest or through a field of wild grasses: my quick commutes to nature were an excellent way to de-stress from the day and a great way to get away, without really going far from home.
Since moving to the city my walks have mainly been in the hustle and bustle of the streets, just trying to find my way around, getting to know the area. The longer daylight hours the last few weeks have allowed me to walk further and I’ve been finding some really great green spaces.
Last Friday I walked along the river and came upon a park. It was a peaceful scene with the path I was on meandering through thick, tall trees. As I walked on I stumbled upon a path leading up through the trees and I followed it up a steep hill. It brought me on a walk through a small forest filled with birds and along a grass lined path that followed an escarpment. It was still and silent up there, aside from the wind and calls of the birds. I stood looking back at the city, a small cluster of buildings against the blowing grasses and grey sky. I realized then how much I needed those serenity moments, especially while living in the city. So to all those people who work so hard on keeping our green spaces green; I’d like to say thank you.
While our cities are different all over the world what we have in common are those places to get away, even if it’s just for a moment. Whether it’s a bench in a quiet part of downtown, a living wall in a building, a swing at the local park or a walk along a city path, our cities have places for mental rest. Do you have a favorite place to go in your city?