The sun shone through the clouds as we woke up this morning, not a bright sunrise but one that was filtered by high clouds against the blue sky. It was a bit cooler than it had been, about 61 degrees, so we had morning coffee indoors rather than on the porch. We ventured out about an hour later and the temperature had already risen to 70 degrees so we did sit on the porch for a bit and enjoy looking at the boats and birds and busy activities of those connected with the harbor.
After breakfast we decided to go hiking in a national park which is only about 40 miles from here. It is called by a First Nation name, which is what they call Native Americans or Indians. The name is almost unpronounceable—Kejimkujik. I have tried to say it many ways and the locals say it one way but shorten it simply to “Keji.” I think that makes it easier for all concerned.
Keji is a Canadian National and Historic Park and is basically a heavily wooded area with a river running through it and lakes and streams formed because of the river. The area has many campgrounds in it and hiking trails and areas for canoeing. It is a national park but has a feeling almost like going to camp somewhere. People with campers and motor homes line up at the entrance gate and spend weekends there with their kids and dogs enjoying the woods and lake and river and simply relaxing. There is a stand that sells ice cream and a baseball field and the feeling of it is not anything like national parks in the USA. It is so much more simple in nature, not centered on a “big attraction” such as a mountain range or glacier or seashore but provides a place for families to simply relax together and enjoy each other’s company.
We drove up to Keji around noon and brought our picnic supplies and found a really nice picnic area by Mills Falls. That is where the Mersey River falls over an area of rocks and runs quickly by. We found a picnic table right by the water after passing a family having a cookout and saying hello to some hikers. We enjoyed watching the river flow by us over the rocks while having our lunch. The area is spotless, not a piece of trash to be found anywhere. Nova Scotians have a high regard for nature and also a deposit/return policy on bottles and cans of all kinds so no one throws them away but returns them for a refund because they paid a deposit when they bought the items.
After lunch we found a hiking trail that went right along the Mersey River, advertised as being 1 kilometer but it seems at least like 1 mile or more. It was an easy hike, through woods and along the river with places now and then to try to spot a beaver or fish in the water. Our little dog Bo hiked with us and he walked quickly over rocks and sticks on trail.
Needing to find the facilities, we found a campground not too far away and discovered the baseball field and ice cream store nearby it. Then, a bit farther away was a campground where demonstrations of First Nation teepee and campfire skills were being exhibited. That was a bit crowded so we did not stay to enjoy them.
As we drove to the exit of the national park, Doris and I discussed how different this national park was from the ones we have visited in the USA. It was she who remarked that this was nice to have a place for families to simply get away and find renewal in forest and riverside with simple pleasures such as bike riding, canoeing, and, camping. Our national parks have campgrounds, to be sure, but it is the “big things” that attract people to the national parks and enjoying the pleasure of being in nature follows the geyser or mountain or seashore that brought them there.
It is nice to be reminded now and then about what is important in life, the simple pleasures of home and hearth and family. Many times it is the “big things” that get our attention—holidays, special events, concerts or sporting events---but then we are reminded in the quiet moments following the holiday meal or on the drive home from the special event that it is being with people who are important to you and enjoying shared times that speak to our spirits.