One of the best ways to ensure your own happiness is to spend some time in Nature. Surrounded by trees, flowers, water and sky, with animals visible now and then will always bring joy. If you’ve not experienced this in a while, please get out there. Pure joy awaits.

The magic of Mother Earth is truly restorative. Fresh air is medicine for the body. Viewing animals in their own habitats feeds the soul. Discovering new-to-you plant life tingles the spirit. Taking in a vista of mountains is humbling. Together, they are almost more happiness than I can take in one outing.

I had this experience recently in an area of the Canadian Rocky Mountains known as Kananaskis. Driving through this country gives you a bird’s eye view as you climb to the top of a pass, and brings you down to river rock with water that numbs. Up top it is quiet. By the stream at the bottom, deafening.

I’m not a photographer, really. I can compose because of my years building graphics for communications programs and promotions. I don’t even have a camera right now. I use my phone, and wow, aren’t they getting better with every generation? On this recent outing, with a special friend who knows this place well, I am trying to photograph wild flowers. Delicate, tiny, strong and strange, and not in any way a complete representation of what this area offers, I share them with you throughout this blog.

So, in the interest of the theme of my blog, “Who Made Peg?”, I wonder who gave me my first appreciation of Mother Nature? How did I come to love and respect her so much? Who first showed me that this is fun?

The first natural experience I remember was learning to swim with my father. I would hold onto his shoulders, arms outstretched to their full length, and kick. He would swim and tell me to keep kicking whenever I would slow down. It was together time, and brought happiness.

My Dad was the king of road trips. He would always leave before breakfast and stop along the way to eat. If it was a one-day trip, my Mom would pack a lunch and we’d stop for a swim at one of Ontario’s Provincial Parks.

This would happen when we headed south to visit my grandparents. My Grandpa had a big garden. I remember sneaking carrots, and hiding between the cornrows. He told me about flowers. He loved gladioli, and created a few hybrids of his own. I loved the flowers too, and we always got to take a big bunch home with us, wrapped in wet newspapers for the long drive.

Along the way, we’d stop at the Holland Marsh – acres of rich, productive soil where all kinds of vegetables grow. Seeing and smelling fresh celery added to my appreciation for nature.

And then there was summer camp. I was eight, I think. I thought my parents were trying to get rid of me. I didn’t want to go. This was a summer camp subsidized by the company that employed my Dad. He would boast to his friends that he couldn’t buy milk for me for the same price he would pay to send me to camp. I believed in my heart of hearts that he wanted to send me away to save money. I know differently now… I think… Well, I choose to believe differently now.

At this camp, kids could sign up for one to four weeks. After the first two weeks, a family visitors day occurred, and then the final two weeks. July was the month for boys, and August was the month for girls. I finally agreed to two weeks, as long as they promised to show up on visitor’s day to take me home.

Of course, I fell in love with camp, and its people, and begged them on visitor’s day to let me stay. Wisely, they had signed me up for all four weeks just in case. The Superintendent of the camp was a great man who taught us much about Mother Nature. Plants, animals, how to camp with nothing, what to do when you see a bear, the kinds of trees there are in a Northern Ontario woods, and the names of wild flowers. Canoeing, swimming, diving, and entertaining were included in our education. I loved it all.

The final awesome piece that cemented my love of nature forever was the ocean. I was on vacation with my parents in Daytona. It was dark when we arrived there, and I had to go straight to bed. Our accommodation was right on the beach, and as I fell asleep that night, I heard the waves crashing on the shore. That memory stays with me with such clarity. An odd mix of sheer power and relaxing rhythm is one of my dearest memories.

When I lived in the Kootenays, I hiked. I have always loved being out in nature. And finding ten plant species in one day, three quarters of which I did not know was a thrill! Thank you special friend. Thank you Kananaskis!