Walking into Spring


Spring in Edmonton means many things. It means sunshine and longer days, warm afternoons as the snow slushes around your boots. It means longer evenings, actual evenings when you can go outside after six o’clock and it’s not dark. It means spring snowstorms—wet snow and sloppy sidewalks that freeze, melt, and freeze again.
Spring means the world is suddenly on the move. Canada geese sometimes fly right over my house. The song-birds return, and I can hear the piercing cry of the small hawks called merlins that live in the neighbourhood. Spring used to mean the return of the crows, but a couple of years ago the crows made up their minds to stay here through the winters—and I always thought they were smart birds.
Spring means the unclenching of winter. For me, it’s the end of the academic term, it’s my sister’s birthday, and it’s Easter, but most of all it’s about walking—walking in the afternoons and feeling the sun that has the power to make me sweat beneath my too-heavy coat, , and walking in the evenings as the sun is setting and the quiet of the evening fills the sky.
When I walk, I read. I walk and read all the time. I have a small reader that I keep in my pocket, and I plug in a portable speaker that I carry in another pocket, or sometimes tucked into the collar of the fleece I wear under my coat.
I’m lucky enough to live in a place where walking is easy. And as I walk, I read anything and everything.
The past few summers I’ve had a reading project. A couple of years ago I wanted to read all of the books in the Dune cycle, including those published by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. I think I got through twelve of those books as I tramped around the neighbourhood. I wanted to read The Song of Ice and Fire series, but I only got a hundred pages in and quit. I reread as well. I’ve reread Tolkien, Lewis, and Le Guin; I’ve read books by Montgomery, Phillip K. Dick, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Bernard Cornwell. I’ve read The Silkworm, Oryx and Crake, The Shadow of Malabron, The Fountains of Paradise, Blood Red Road, The Road, the Magicians, and The Horseman’s Graves, all while walking—in the morning, in the evening, at night, and sometimes in the rain.
Along with many others, I was sad to learn of the death of Terry Pratchett this spring. Pratchett is another author whose gift to the world is a place to visit when this one gets too grim. His books are my next project. I’ve already read the Bromeliadtrilogy, and I’m onto the Tiffany Aching books. Who knows how far I’ll get with Pratchett, but if it isn’t Discworld, then it will be somewhere else. Enjoy the season, and enjoy whatever you are reading.