But still, nothing sprang to mind... until I was laying on the sofa, in the depths of my cold, staring out the windows and it literally hit me - thankfully in the form of an early springtime ray of sunshine - the outdoors.
Aside from loving sunny spring days and hot days at the beach - complete with barbeques and picnics; I used to love the first gentle snowfall of the year, when the fat snowflakes would drift lazily to the ground.
I have been doubly blessed in that I've lived in two absolutely stunning countries. The geography and diverse beauty of Canada never fails to make my heart swell with national pride.
My first real memory of loving the outdoors is our family vacation to Western Canada. We started off in Calgary and drove (and drove and drove) to Vancouver. I realised that I really liked being outside when we went camping in B.C. My memory is generally a bit of a sieve, but I do remember the feeling of awe at the sight of the mountains next to the lake we were staying at.
Back in the day, I used to go camping with my friends from high school. We'd drive to Algonquin Park, paddle out to a little island on Crotch Lake (yes, it made me giggle then and it still makes me giggle now) and we'd camp there for a few days. Thankfully, these trips are a bit closer to my memory and I will never forget the sight of a moose standing in the shallows, protecting her calf, as we paddled quietly by. To this very day, I still think that very little can compare visually to rural Ontario in the autumn, when all the leaves are changing.
In my university days, every so often, I'd be seized by the need to get out of the city and be somewhere else. My escapes ranged from an autumn camping trip, where we were surrounded by a riot of colour, to the odd trip to Peggy's Cove to clamber over rocks and watch the waves crashing violently against them. Sadly, my photos are in Canada, so these are not my own, but the ones below beautifully capture the vibrant beauty of Nova Scotia.
Even as I entered the 'working world' my love for camping and the outdoors did not reduce. One of my most memorable birthday experiences was when I was spirited away by my nearest and dearest friends for a weekend in a cabin a couple of hours outside of Toronto.
I never thought I'd live anywhere as beautiful as Canada... until I came to New Zealand. From the beachy beauty of the Far North, to the bubbling goodness of Rotorua and all the way down to the stunning Southern Alps - New Zealand is also a country that is absolutely gorgeous. I've been lucky enough to have been to the top of the North Island down to almost the bottom of the South Island... and it was breath taking every step of the way.
|Waitomo Caves - a trip with Phill in 2006|
|Hell's Gate - a visit to Rotorua with Sasha in April '04|
|Milford Sound during The Great South Island Adventure with LeeAnn - Jan '06|
|The Marlborough Sounds during The Great South Island Adventure with LeeAnn - Jan '06|
|Lake Tekapo during The Great South Island Adventure with LeeAnn - Jan '06|
The more I think about it, the more I realise that I do have great appreciation for the outdoors (which is something that is a fairly universal feeling) but something else occurs to me - maybe my love for the outdoors is intertwined with my feelings for my friends and family. Each and every fantastic memory of being 'in the wild' is inexorably tied with happy memories of time spent with loved ones. How can I not be grateful for all the awesome experiences in the outdoors that I've been lucky enough to share with the people I love?