The other day my fella and I climbed a beautiful little mountain in a beautiful little valley – Dove Crag in Dove Dale. It was a lovely day together in the sunshine – the warmth, the sweet smells, the greenery of summertime all around. Unlike the peak of mid-summer though – where the sun lingers for much of the evening and the plants are vibrant, bursting with life – you can sense the season is starting to fade. It’s a subtle shift, when summer fades into autumn, and one that fills me with equal parts sadness of what has passed, and also of anticipation for what is to come.
A fitting analogy for the next chapter in me and my partner’s life I suppose. Our day out together was slightly bitter-sweet, as it is the last day off we will have together before Jack starts full-time education for the next four years. Of course, some of our time off will coincide and we will still get to have adventures together, but the focus will have shifted from our mountain-activity oriented lifestyle to the student lifestyle, and all that entails. And, like the changing from summer to autumn, this new chapter fills me with mixed emotions. The longer I am in a committed, long-term partnership with someone, the more I see it as a balancing act of values, goals, and priorities in life. As I have written before, international partnership only proves to make that balancing act more complicated – and lately, I find myself struggling with the idea of trying to reconcile partnership with my own sense of self and purpose in life. This is why, at the dawn of an additional commitment of four years to this rainy isle we call Britain, I have mixed emotions.
On one hand, I prioritize my partnership with Jack – I love him dearly, and my life is so much more full and rich everyday because of him. The thought of getting to spend another four years of my life with him makes me really, and truly, happy. On the other hand, I prioritize my home – the mountains of British Columbia.
It is not truly home in the strictest sense of where I grew up – I am, alas, a flat-lander Ontarian. Yet I love and miss BC so very much partly because I grew up in somewhere so very different to it. I first set foot in the province as a dreamy 17 year old, and I fell completely in love. I actually cried coming into Jasper with my sister. And I loved it so much, that as soon as I completed high school, I moved thousands of kilometres away from everything and anything that was familiar to me – just to live in BC. Despite being so far from Ontario, my family, and my friends, I felt fulfilled. Like I knew, deep down in my soul, that this place was where I was supposed to be. This is why I still consider British Columbia my home.
Conflictingly, Jack also gives me that same feeling. That when I am with him, I feel like I am ‘home’. I feel very lucky, and very grateful, that I have found someone who loves me dearly, who I love to bits, who shares the same values and perspective of what is important in life. But I desperately miss British Columbia – and my two versions of home will be at odds for another four years.
Yet I suppose that is what love is – compromise, patience, and considering someone other than yourself in the creation of a life together. Love is also happiness, trust, comfort, and growth – and I do see the next four years as growth for myself in more ways than one. I know B.C. is my home, but I will get there. And I also know once I leave Britain for good I will deeply miss the people and places, and the experiences I’ve had here. Not to mention the sheep 🙂 – there isn’t nearly enough of those in Canada.
Speaking of sheep – this Dovedale walk is perfect for those looking to see more of these delightful, woolly creatures. Dove Crag is a little fell just on the ‘other side’ of the Fairfield Horseshoe, a very popular walk above Ambleside. Although you can access Dove Crag via the Fairfield Horseshoe, I really like the way we ascended, via Dovedale just outside of Glenridding. It’s a neglected little valley, Dovedale, and is often passed by in favour of more well-known walks… but I absolutely love it. It’s a quiet valley, with mixed forests (big gnarly oaks!), a sweet little lake called Brothers Water, and lots of craggy mountains to climb. And, as I mentioned, lots of sheepys around too, which always makes a location better in my books. The photo above of the sheepy have a sit in the shade is one of my favourites of the summer.
Anyhoos, if you find yourself in the area, I recommend Dovedale – it’s a beautiful place for a bit of a walk, a bit of reflection, or both.