Running The Trail Wildlife

Summer Is upon Us

Though not technically summer solstice yet, we’ve been warned by Environment Canada that we’ll have a warmer summer than last year’s, all across the country. I thought, wow, last year was a heat wave and drought for 4 months straight–will we really be warmer than that? Here I sit today, exhausted from a late night (I thought I was having an appendicitis attack, but it went away–yet not until the early dawn peeked through the windows). It is in the 30s (90s) already, and we have no AC, so I’m just a little tired after 2-3 hours of sleep and will not run today as previously planned.

I did have two wonderful runs earlier this week, though, both a bit longer than usual. I also had a third outing with my friend Courtney, a 3 mile walk to lunch and back, eating the typical “rabbit food salad” followed with an ice-cold mojito with no cane syrup (very good!). On Thursday I was headed to the west Deer Lake woods when another jogger stopped to warn me that peace officers were there due to a cougar sighting. I begged off those trails and ran a ways down Deer Lake road itself before turning back and romping through the trails closer to campus.

My friend Jessica, a biologist and nature writer living in Peru, republished an article she had written a few years ago about seeing a jaguar on the trail. I love reading her blog–and, in fact, am reminded that she and her husband built their own cabin in the woods–my dream. I hope to start making concrete plans with my husband doing something similar.

Jessica had encouraged me to apply for the International League of Nature Writers, which I was recently accepted to. This has inspired me to once again be more active in conservation rather than just writing thoughts about my interactions while on the trail. I spent my first few years in Canada working for a river steward non-profit, actively working to clean up shorelines here in Vancouver and stand up for wild salmon and against oil sands and pipelines. I also volunteered with a salmon nursery and tested local salmon creek waters. My current volunteering effort is with the Great Climate Race, which is a wonderful thing–crowdfunding and running for solar energy projects in the lower mainland–but my real interest has always been more Arcadian, getting away from city/energy sources, rewilding, and preservation of natural habitats. I will talk more later on those thoughts.

But for now the wild animals are foraging close to home, on the trails, and so on. Blackberries have flowered, and fruit is just a hair away from blooming–they usually bloom in late July or in August, but in warmer, earlier summer weather, they are ready in June. The blackberries here are not native and are considered quite invasive (though there is also a native trailing blackberry, seen less in the metropolitan areas). Of course, we love the berries, and so do the deer, bears, birds, foxes, coyotes, and so forth. We have the Himalaya Giant species, which was brought here over a century ago from the UK. They are thorny, wildly growing plants that do well in the lower mainland due to the winter not being cold enough to kill them off. The plants take over, quite literally, spreading through root and stem fragments. The lot next to us is empty and a jungle of weeds, brush, and blackberry plants that are not trimmed at all. We have a mess of an area beyond our back yard, which we desperately need to tackle after vacation–it’s covered with blackberry brambles and ivies. We have already started fighting the plants, but I noticed new shoots up by my cedar planters along the fence this weekend. Despite not being native, and being an invasive weed, ripening blackberries remind me of summer–and, oh the pies and jams to make!

When summer solstice does arrive, it will be on June 21st, and we will be in Ireland then (we are actually leaving in six days, and our mothers arrive on Thursday and Friday!). It looks like, while there, we will be seeing some variable weather, ranging from all sunny to rainy, and from 13-20C (mid-50s to high 60sF), which is really perfect weather for the running we plan to do. If summer in BC is anything like last year’s, it will be a cool break for us to get away, and I’m really excited.

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