Walking Tsawwassen – Yet Another Shot of COVID-19 Sanity

"Bad mood" could just as easily be substituted with any number of words: anxious, worried, angry, frustrated, unproductive, stagnate, etc. However, even if you aren't embroiled in negative thoughts and feelings, a walk is just the thing. Whether you bookmark your day with morning and evening walks, or punctuate it at some point in the day, your senses are tickled into awareness. Your perspective shifts and often, a solution knocks on the door of your problems.

A chat and a dose of humour

During these trying COVID-19 days, a walk gives me another shot of sanity-saving sustenance. It gets me out of the house, provides much-needed novelty, plus I get to know more about the community in which I'm walking. Sometimes, it gives me an opportunity to have a physically-distanced chat - but not a chit (see below) - with someone, reminding me of life before the world was sent into hibernation.

Speaking of chit-chat, here is a humorous look at those reduplicatives, otherwise known as echo words, by one of my favourite comedians, Michael McIntyre:

Before and After OT

If you had asked me about Tsawwassen before I embarked on Operation Tsawwassen (OT), I would have told you about two things: evening swims at both Centennial Beach and Point Roberts, that little peaceful landlocked American enclave.

Now that I've completed OT, I have more to say about Tsawwassen.

Beach Grove

Beach Grove is a neighbourhood that cares. It is noticeable in the friendliness of the people, as well as the community-minded spirit that ensures the safety of the pedestrians and cyclists who navigate this lovely neighbourhood.

If you've ever had the pleasure of going to Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, you might see and feel the similarities between these two communities. A lot of the homes are still cottage-like; thus much more architecturally-diverse. As I walk by, I find them much more pleasing to the eye. They also stir my imagination: Who lived there, when was it built and what was life like then?

Slow down!

A man told me that he feels a lot more comfortable allowing his daughter and friends out to play. Apparently, a Beach Grove resident took it upon himself to highlight the 30 km speed limit by selling signs for $20.00 each. You'd have to be completely distracted (hopefully not!) in order to miss these ubiquitous signs.

A reminder to observe the 30 km speed limit.
A reminder to observe the 30 km speed limit.
A picture of a donkey with the reminder to "Slow your ass down."
A cheeky reminder!

Little Free Library

Each time I encounter a Little Free Library, I want to do a happy dance, but I don't. After all, I have more walking to do, so I need to conserve my energy. After a quick perusal through the books on offer, I continue on my trek. If there is something I want to read, I will drive by at the end of my walk. I keep a few books in the car, just for that reason.

At the time of this writing, I have one more walk to do to complete Operation Ladner (OL). Little did I know that I would be finishing up a fourth COVID-inspired walking project of mine. I know it's rather a stretch, but if there are silver linings to be found, it's the novelty of seeing my environs from a different perspective and the exercise I get from committing to Operation Wherever.

Of all the Little Free Libraries in all the towns I've walked in the Lower Mainland, I'd give the grand prize for most original design to the one I came across in Beach Grove. Someone spent a lot of time creating and building it. However, not content to leave it at that, they also installed a bench that was made from reclaimed driftwood. Delightful!

Swan's Book Nook - a Free Little Library.
Swan's Book Nook - a Free Little Library.
n image of a Free Little Library and a bench.
The grand prize goes to this Free Little Library.

Beach Grove Elementary School

Beach Grove Beach Grove is a neighbourhood that cares. It is noticeable in the friendliness of the people I encountered, to the community-minded spirit that ensures the safety of the many pedestrians and cyclists who navigate this lovely community. If you've ever had the pleasure of going to Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, you might see and feel the similarities between these two communities. A lot of the homes are still cottage-like; thus much more architecturally-diverse. In other words, more interesting to look at. Slow Down! A man told me that he feels a lot more comfortable allowing his daughter and friends out to play.  He informed me that a Beach Grove resident took it upon himself to highlight the 30 km speed limit by selling signs for $20.00 each. You'd have to be completely distracted (hopefully not!), in order to miss these ubiquitous signs.
A banner encourages the students to walk and wheel to school.

So many communities and so many schools. Over the course of walking the residential streets of four municipalities, this was the first time I saw a sign that encouraged students to get exercise on their way to and from school. A banner that was stretched across the fence read: Walk and Wheel to School.

As you can see in the photo, there's a link to Healthy Schools BC (HSBC), where I found two stories that show another aspect of physical health. The HSBC projects provide a blueprint that helps the children learn how to self-regulate (a powerful stress addresser and undresser!). They are able to recognize the flux in their emotional and mental states, while gaining an understanding of their learning styles.

Read: Flexible Classroom Seating to Promote Physical Activity and Kinesthetic Learning: Desk Cycles in the Classroom.

A Sad Day

Holly, the Doberman pinscher, on the patio.
Holly, the Doberman pinscher, on the patio.

Saturday, February 27th will be forever remembered, not because I was almost done OT, but because we took Holly dog to her final vet appointment. After that horribly necessary task was done, we didn't want to go back home to an empty house; so where else was there to go but on a walk.

Ordinarily, I would have taken her, but when I began OND in 2020, she was no longer capable of going the distances that I travelled. This is another reason why my walking projects have been a good idea. I was already used to walking without Holly; it would be more sorrowful if I had to feel her absence.

I often encounter squirrels, dogs and cats on my walks. As we trudged along on that mournful day, I noticed that we were being followed for half a block by a big grey cat. This was the first time that this happened. Coincidental? Who knows! Perhaps it felt we needed a bit of furry, four-legged solace and thus, decided to join us.

Point Roberts

The border crossing at Point Roberts, Washington.
A rare sight - no lineup of cars at the border crossing at Point Roberts, Washington.

Point Roberts is getting a mention because of what I didn't see as I walked in the area that hugs the U.S. border. In any season, on any given day, it's not uncommon to see a long lineup of cars heading into Point Roberts. As you can see from the photo, the U.S. border crossing stands quiet and alone, like a sentry on night duty.

Many Canadians go to Point Roberts for a number of reasons: recreation, cheaper fuel and to pick up parcels (to avoid cross-border shipping costs) from the many shipping outlets that dot "The Point."

"It's not technically part of B.C. -- or even of Canada -- but British Columbians enjoy an unusually close relationship with this piece of America that dangles alone below the 49th parallel on the southernmost tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula. Point Roberts, population 1,300 or so, is technically a U.S. 'enclave' (not an incorporated town) in Whatcom County, Wash. But its separation from the state by two international borders (some call it 'the best gated community in the U.S.') makes it more of a Canadian curiosity."

Progress? Maybe Not

For me, the allure of Tsawwassen is Centennial Beach. Last summer, when the pools were inaccessible, no thanks to COVID-19, an evening swim ensured that I enjoyed the joint-lubrication that I get from swimming. Then, there's the simple joy I get from being at the beach, whether I'm walking along the trails, sitting mesmerized on the shore, or swimming the length of the beach. It is also a place to enjoy a nourishing friendship.

Over the years, Centennial Beach has become so popular in the summer that it was necessary to put a shuttle service in place to transport all the daytime beach goers.

To add even more congestion, construction has started on a huge development called Southlands, which was formerly farmland. It sells itself as "a beach community rooted in farming and food."

After having walked along the few streets that are now open in that community, I've drawn some conclusions. First of all, is accessibility and the impact it will have on ingress and egress to Tsawwassen. Secondly, with no school in that area, the children will have to travel to bursting-at-the-seams schools in another neighbourhood. Thirdly, the Ladner hospital is small, so with a development of this magnitude, I can see it being quickly over-capacity. Were Delta councilors even considering this when they gave this development the green light?

Final OT Words and Pictures

As for the rest of OT, I'll let the pictures do the talking. Suffice to say, that as with my other walking projects (OND, OWR and currently OL - Operation Ladner), some neighbourhoods seemed to be friendlier than others. It also varied in terms of people who were more willing to do the "Coronavirus Shuffle" - the step off to one side to enable physical distancing.

Prior to OT, I didn't think that there was much of an elevation gain, but I now stand walk corrected. I was huffing and puffing on some of those walks.

A collection of buoys hanging on a fence.
I wish I were so lucky as to be able to collect this type of flotsam.
A trail leading to the beach.
A short walk to the beach.
A sunset over the Strait of Georgia, taken from Fred Gingell Park.
A sunset over the Strait of Georgia, taken from Fred Gingell Park.
Diefenbaker Park was formerly a gravel pit.
With its big open hill, Diefenbaker Park reminds me of the British television program, Teletubbies.
A description of the Rotary Water Works. A Biosand water filtration system.
The Rotary installed a demonstration model of a biosand water filtration system in the park.

The joys of finding good reading material!

A Little Free Library, courtesy of the Rotary.
A Little Free Library, courtesy of the Rotary.
Another Little Free Library, courtesy of the Rotary.
Another Little Free Library, courtesy of the Rotary.
A Free Little Library with a sailboat for a door.
A Little Free Library with a nautical theme.
A two-storey book share.
A two-storey book share.
A Free Little Library that is built into a fence.
This is the first Little Free Library that I've seen built into a fence.
The kids' books are in the "basement."
The kids get a special room!

Words of inspiration along a community path

Be kind.
This community pathway is ideal for a walking meditation.
Note To Self: You've got this!
A good reminder!
Painted rocks.
Sometimes a word or two is enough.
Spreading joy, one rock at a time.
An image of a fire truck with a note thanking first responders.
An expression of gratitude - a good stress-addressing strategy.
You are loved.
A message that is good for the heart. Reflect on who and what you love as a stress-addressing strategy.
Do small things with great love.
Last, but not least!

Art in various forms

A heron sculpture.
My, how I love herons!
A bird made from recycled materials.
I love the idea of recycling items to create art. Can you see a parts of a push mover?
A weather vane.
Remember to look up.
An unusual fence that is painted in Easter egg colours
An unusual fence that is painted in Easter egg colours

Then, there are the gardens!

Unfortunately, for the most part, the gardens were still slumbering, with the exception of a few "early-risers."

I am embarrassed to say that I missed The Secret Garden. Rather an apt name, isn't it?

When I returned to take a few pictures, I saw how that happened. I stick to residential streets and since The Secret Garden is tucked into a grassy over-grown corner, I missed it. Here is another article that shows the garden in all its glory.

The Secret Garden signs.
The Secret Garden signs.
Pathway through The Secret Garden.
Beautifully reclaimed land.
A hollowed out log serves as a planter.
Artful garden design.
Hellebores
Hellebores. I never knew the name of these early-blooming flowers.

Other Thoughts

As a dog owner

Here's a gentle reminder that it’s not all about you and your dog.

While walking, I overheard a man telling a mom who was dog- and child-walking that he would step off the path. The mother replied that the dog was fine. I assume the child was fine, too. She failed to realize that he was concerned for himself. My guess is that he was once bitten, thus creating a fear of dogs.

Here are two articles that explains how the fear response takes hold: When the News Knocks You Sideways and Stress, a Sense of Smell and Essential Oils.

The same thing would happen when I would encounter other dog walkers, while walking Holly, who was uncomfortable meeting other dogs. "He's OK," they'd say, as they marched towards us. "But, she is not," came my quick reply as I dragged Holly off to the side. The dog walking dance includes an unknown quantity. Remember that your dog may be OK, but unless you know the other one, caution is advised.

Make like you're royalty

The British Royals do it. Walking, that is. Like 'em or not, this is one habit worth emulating. For other health habits that can help you lead a royal life, read Live Like the Queen: 12 Royal Secrets of Longevity.

I hope that this post has encouraged you to get out and explore your neighbourhood, your community and your region.

In the News

Surrey Woman fights pandemic stress by walking all of North Delta, White Rock


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