How We Change a River

I have seen this fascinating little documentary going around online, about how wolves changed the ecosystems and even the shape of the river beds in Yellowstone National Park when they were re-introduced. They ate deer, who stopped eating all the plants, which allowed trees to grow, which brought in more rodents, which attracted more hawks, etc. You know the drill. The wolves are at the top of the food chain in Yellowstone, along with the bears. A new (old) predator in the territory changes the way everybody else behaves.

So I went for a long walk on the river on Monday with two friends and their baby. And I was thinking, did we change the river too? Sure we did. Of course we did. It would be ridiculous to think that we didn’t. We just have to look at the small stories – the petits recits – all around us.

For example, I am sure I stepped on about a thousand salmon roe in the river bed gravel while wading in my boots for a millisecond before I remembered I shouldn’t be doing that. Sorry, salmon-babies. Also, I picked up an empty beer can and brought it home to the recycling, hopefully saving it from a long, rusty ride downstream.

Meanwhile, my daughter crawled around on the beach – “her name is Rio and she dances on the sand…” –  and we both got some much needed outside time.  I love living on a river.

How did you change your ecosystem today?

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Fighting the Baby Blues with Gore-Tex

This time last year, I was almost eight months pregnant. With the waddle, the back pain, and the mounting feeling of helplessness and doom, I was doing my best to face the holidays with vim and vigour. After the holidays had passed, the weeks sped by as my due date approached. The weather was dismal but it’s possible I didn’t notice or care – I was too busy weeping over my inflated ankles and my disappearing sense of self.

Of course, that all changed the moment I met my daughter. I was transformed, enlightened, etc. (insert all cliches about parenthood here). A few weeks into my baby’s life, however, and the glow started to tarnish. My partner returned to work. I was stuck at home, in the suburbs, in the late winter, in the Pacific North West, with a newborn. Need I say more?

There is no need for me to add to the literature on Post-Partum Depression. The internet is full of articles with obnoxious titles like TOP TEN WAYS TO STOP CRYING, GET SKINNY AND BE HAPPY (Ummm, number one: Turn off the internet?).

So, all I need to tell you is what worked for me, and it is called Gore-Tex.

That is right, dear reader. Many of my earliest weeks at home with Baby Wah-Wah looked like this. All dressed up and no place to go. Because it’s raining. Boooooo. (Ed Note: I posed the baby, action-figure style, to achieve this effect. She didn’t climb to the window sill alone. You might notice that she also didn’t wipe up the coffee-ring on the sill while she was there. Lazy baby.)

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Wah. Why are we inside?

However, things started to change in April, or as I like to call the fourth month of the calendar , I AM DAMN SICK AND TIRED OF THIS RAIN. So what’s a mom to do? Break out the Gore-Tex, dummy. Yes, I know it doesn’t fit anymore. Let’s face it, no jackets do up over those boobs anymore. Get over it.

Put on a sweater, and a hat. Struggle into your Gore-Tex rain jacket as best you can. Bundle up the baby and plop her in the stroller. Cover her with a rain cover. YOU MUST GET A RAIN COVER. Now GO OUTSIDE. Just do it. Walk out the door, take a breath, and start walking.

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The view from here.

You don’t need to have a destination. You don’t need to bring anything. Leave the diaper bag at home. Bring your phone if you must but dammit STOP SURFING THE INTERNET AND JUST WALK OUTSIDE FOR AWHILE. No Facebook, No Radar Online, No Pinterest and FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE NO BABYCENTER. THAT SITE IS POISON.

Breathe. Enjoy the feeling of rain falling on your rain jacket. That’s what it is for. The baby is fine too. Don’t worry.

NOW here’s the fun part. Look up. Look up, way up. Past the trees, past the clouds, past the stars even. You are a speck of dust in an infinite universe. You are simultaneously nothing and everything. Look down. You are staring at ten pounds of flesh and blood. Also nothing. And everything.

Look up again.

Repeat.

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Walking in the rain near our house.