Katy Re-discovers Riding Mountain

I live an hour south of Riding Mountain National Park and during the 28 years of my existence I have seriously underutilized it. My name is Katy Singleton and I am an Environmental Science student at Brandon University.  In recent years I’ve travelled to several Canadian locales to experience breathtaking ecosystems and biodiversity, and in general, missed much of the ecological beauty lying virtually on my doorstep.  

Recently I was put in contact with a gentleman by the name of Celes Davar.  Celes along with his wife Sue, own and operate Earth Rhythms, a business providing ecological experiences to groups of people looking for personalized excursions involving nature, art, music, science, and a host of local business people and hobbyists.  How did I not know this business existed?  Celes informed me Earth Rhythms is intentionally low key, advertised mostly by word of mouth and the web, which helps maintain the philosophy of the enterprise, an intimate, personalized taste of what Riding Mountain has to offer.  

I was looking for a summer job and thought Celes may be looking to fill a summer position.  Over various emails and a telephone conversation I discovered several things.  Celes was extremely knowledgeable on environmental policy, initiatives, CO2 emissions and global warming, etc.  He asked me in-depth questions about my personal views and ideas that I had never been asked before and he shared more excitment and passion for the environment then I had seen in a long time.  I began to feel passionate too.

After four years in my program I had misplaced my love for the environment. I knew the importance of promoting a healthy sustainable earth, but my thoughts had become predictable and stale.  I was reading textbooks, writing papers and giving presentations but was no longer connected to what my studies were really about.  

The day I was to meet Celes and Sue in person a friend and I came out to the park early. We brought along the Riding Mountain National Park Trail Guide, ‘Taking to the Trails.’  We started out at Bead Lakes but soon turned back as it’s quite muddy this early in the season.  We travelled to the Brulé Trail and did the full hike as it appeared drier.  ‘Both trails are so different,’ I thought.  Two trails about a ten minute car ride apart and they have such different personalities.  The first trail was heavily treed, mossy, muddy and green, so different from the second dryer, more grassy trail that still displayed the scars of fires long past.  ‘Look what I have been missing,’ I marveled as I walked through the stillness. The forest provided a special kind of quiet, that hushed all thoughts of anything other then where I was right at that moment, I felt my heart rate slow.  The stillness was pervasive yet the forest was teeming with life, birds singing, insects buzzing, but rather than noise it sounded like… music.  

Later my friend and I met with Celes and Sue, and over a wonderful meal spoke about the topics I had been learning in school but rarely discussed.  I left that night with an offer of employment and strange feeling of excitement and peace.  Something had awakened inside me that I hadn’t even realized had fallen asleep.  I day-dream about my next hike, and am excited to discover what I can help Celes and Earth Rhythms accomplish this summer. Whatever my experiences with Riding Mountain National Park over the next few months will be, I know I will remember that feeling in the woods, where I re-discovered the stillness and peace that elude so many of us day to day, and that helped me to remember why I’m here.

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