With Calvin at school, James working on campus, and temperatures in the low 40s, the girls and I headed out for a quick girls-only run this morning.
The map of our neighborhood in Christchurch, a city known as a city of gardens, is dotted with green patches every few blocks. From tiny green spaces to large parks with trails, facilities, courts and fields, and playgrounds, the park system is extensive. I had run through a park called Riccarton Bush earlier this week on my own and decided, at 1.4 km from our house, we should return to explore it in more detail together.
Soon after leaving our house, cold rain-mist started to fall but we were undeterred. Evelyn, in particular, felt happy to get out and stretch her legs. The weather has not encouraged lots of outdoor time the last few days; temperatures have been below freezing overnight and we’ve had a couple days of rain/sleet.
It only took us a few minutes to reach Riccarton Bush, and we spotted what looked like a fenced bird enclosure near the entrance. We ran over and saw a sign explaining that this patch of land is one of the only remaining original forests on the Canterbury Plain. Settlers cleared the entire region to farm the flat, arable land.
The locked entrance to the forest included posted signs that dogs and other predators may not enter because the ecosystem needs to be preserved.
As soon as we entered, we all felt a sense of wonder and peace at the viney, fern-filled woods.
“It was a small marvel,” says Evelyn (11 years old).
The walking (in our case, running) path through the bush was a combination of cement, boardwalk, and packed earth. It wound past 600 year old Kahikatea trees and shrubs and bushes that look totally different than those from the northeast US. Birds called overhead and fluttered by as we jogged through the park.
The trail didn’t take very long, but we enjoyed every step of it.