Walking Ladner – Protecting My Sanity Through COVID-19

"We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down.." Robert Sweetgall

As COVID-19 grinds on, there are days when it is more difficult to maintain my equilibrium. I am fortunate in that I practice a number of strategies that help me step into a better frame of mind. One sanity-saving exercise I partake in is "street walking." (No! Not like that!)

As I walk the residential streets of a municipality, I engage in a type of awareness walking meditation. A muscle meditation, too. Life slows down. I walk away from the news and my troubles and walk towards the novelty of a new neighbourhood.

If you had told me that I would have completed four municipality walks when I started Operation North Delta (OND) on April 7th, 2020, I wouldn't have believed you. With the completion of Operation White Rock (OWR), Operation Tsawwassen (OT) and now, Operation Ladner (OL), this is my historical record of how I made my way through life during a pandemic.

As I Walked Down the Streets of Ladner

Coloured in map of Ladner.

Upon starting OL, one of my first thoughts was that it would have been advisable to tackle it when I first began my walking projects. Ladner is flat; not a hill to be found. It is also a smaller municipality, which would've given me the sense of accomplishment a lot sooner. What's done is done, though.

Downtown heritage building.
A step back in time.
Sign on the top of a heritage building that reads "Johnny's Corner."
I never noticed this in previous visits to Ladner. It's Johnny's Corner.

Billboard reads: Ours to preserve by hand and by heart.The downtown area of Ladner is a well-preserved nod to the history of this area. I noted that Ladner was intent on preserving the past by the number of older buildings that are still viable, unlike some communities where history is seen as irrelevant. On the way out of Ladner, I read the City of Delta billboard that proved my theory that history matters to this municipality.

Unlike Richmond to the north, it appears that there is a building height restriction in Ladner. I think the tallest building I saw was 6 storeys. There is wisdom in this decision. The ground upon which Ladner is built is part of the Fraser River Delta. It's characterized by loosely-packed, albeit fertile soil. This type of soil is subject to liquefaction, in the event of an earthquake. As a result, there is less support for larger, heavier structures. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Fingers crossed, that "The Big One" doesn't occur!

Oh, Those Ladner Herons!

If you keep your eyes open, it's not unusual to spot a blue heron as you make your way into Ladner. But there's one you can't miss.

Welcome to Ladner Heron is decorated for Easter.
The Welcome to Ladner Blue Heron celebrates Easter.
Welcome to Ladner Blue Heron is wearing a mask.
Even the Welcome to Ladner Blue Heron wears a mask.

My friend, who lives in Ladner, tells me that some surreptitious citizens take it upon themselves to seasonally attire this heron. I love that the City has gone along with this harmless, yet joy-giving practice. Kudos to them!

Surrounded by Nature

Ladner is bordered by the Fraser River to the north and west. Farmland abuts the southern and eastern edges. From a number of different vantage points, you can see three different mountain ranges: Coastal Mountains in the north, the Vancouver Island Ranges to the west and the North Cascades to the east, where the most identifiable one is Mount Baker in Washington.

Nature nurtures, whether it is tamed, or wild. See. Hear. Smell. Enjoy!

Chilcotin Slough, bordered by homes on one side.
Idyllic setting along the Chilcotin Slough.
View of farmer's field and the mountains.
Mountains in the distance.
View of the mountains on the North Shore.
Kirkland House at Hawthorne Grove Park.
Built in 1910, Kirkland House, an Edwardian-style home, is situated in Hawthorne Grove Park.
Water freature on the grounds of Hawthorne Grove Park.
Part of the beautiful landscaping around the Kirkland House in Hawthorne Grove Park.
Entrance to the Ladner Community Garden.
A decent-sized community garden.
Ladner Community Garden plots.
If you need to rest after working in your plot, you can always gaze at the mountains.

Springtime in Ladner

Camellia shrub.
Camellia shrub.
Cherry tree.
Cherry tree.
Magnolia tree.
Magnolia tree.

River Life

When in Ladner, you're never far from the mighty Fraser River. Along River Road, there are fish packing plants, both derelict and currently in use. Parks, walking trails, marinas and float homes provide interest.

Sign: Ladner Fishermen's Coop Hall

Things That Made Me Smile

Regardless of the municipality, I always found something to make me smile. In fact, I was on the lookout for those moments. Remember, you often find what you look for, so set your compass to looking for the positive things. The things that bring you moments, if not hours, of pleasure.

There are enough sanity-eroding things in life, especially during COVID-19.

Joke sign on a lawn: What's Irish and comes out in spring? Paddy O' Furniture.
I wonder how often the joke sign is changed?
A garden door with peep holes cut out at varying heights. Probably for differently-sized children/animals.
A garden door that allows everyone (children and dogs?) to see what's on the other side.
A rock painted with the message to stay safe.
A friendly reminder to stay safe.
A Weeping White Pine forms an interesting figure.
Do you see a figure in this Weeping White Pine?

When you Need a Break

I wonder how many people have followed the instructions to "Keep calm and swing on." I guess you could say I did it half-ways, since walking brings me a deep sense of calm. As much as I would have liked to perch on the ball and swing, I opted not to for safety reasons, of course.

As you step further into this shady corner lot, be sure to greet this grand old dame of a rhododendron tree.

Sign on rhododendron tree: Please don't swing on this 100 year old tree.
Please don't swing on this 100 year old tree.

Speaking of Swings

Here's an exciting challenge for the little ones. Hang on tight, or be prepared to get wet!

A swing that is suspended over a water-filled ditch.
Hang on tight!
Keep calm and swing on sign.
A little restorative pocket nestled between the street and someone's yard.
Keep calm and swing on sign.
Bench and swing on the edge of someone's property.
Swing or rest? You choose.


Two colourful murals, one downtown, the other at Holly Park Elementary School, depict elements of life in Ladner.

A large mural showing life in Ladner.
Downtown mural.
A large mural on Holly Park Elementary School..
The mural on Holly Park Elementary School.

Little Free Libraries and Weather Vanes

I love them both!

Brightly-painted Chilcotin Sloughside Book Drop
You can't miss this one!
An image of a Little Free Library.LittleFreeLibrary.org
I didn't know that LittleFreeLibrary.org existed.
Little Free Library.
Yet another design for a Little Free Library.
Weather vane - heron.
Weather vane.
Weather vane.

Small Steps

Encouraging Movement

A sign encouraging students to walk and bike.

As I mentioned in my OT post, it was the first time I saw a sign that urged the children to build movement into their trek to and from school. Then, I saw this one at Holly Park Elementary School. Perhaps I missed them all along.

"Small steps towards a big difference." I couldn't have said it better. This is part of the strategy I use when I embark on my Operation Wherever walking projects. Step by step, one walks far.

Stroke by stroke, one also swims far, even when there are times when I have to lower my "swimpectations."

Words like consistency, determination, dedication, satisfaction, enjoyment and calm come to mind whenever I reflect upon these activities.

A Word of Thanks

A huge virtual thank you to all the home owners who create interest around their homes. Well-maintained properties, beautiful gardens and the clever placement of yard art turns my Operation Wherever projects into a bit of a surprise treasure hunt. I never know what I'll see, but I know that there's always something that elevates my walk and my mood.

I also appreciate that the parks in these municipalities are seen to have value. As far as I can tell, there is no plan to carve them up, all in the name of progress.

Over to You

  • Which activities do you do that allow positive thoughts and feelings to flourish?
  • Have you stopped doing them? Why? If it's because of life circumstances, is there a way you can alter/adapt them to suit your current situation?
  • Would you consider doing a long-term project, such as Operation Wherever? If it's too overwhelming, start small. Start with la passeggiata.

In the News

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

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3 Replies to “Walking Ladner – Protecting My Sanity Through COVID-19”

  1. My physical limitations prevent my going out for walks but, I maintain my in-house discipline of yoga and meditation and keep my brain working by solving seven to eight crossword puzzles every day. Since I was already in a stay at home mode before the pandemic, the shutdown has not affected me much.

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