Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Late Autumn Walk In Henteleff Park

Fall has always been my favourite season. The bounty of the harvests. The mouth watering aromas of foods cooking and baking. The scent of wood smoke and the crunch of leaves under your feet as you walk. Mother Nature pulls out her magic paintbrushes and the landscape is awash in spectacular colours!

For the last few years, one of my gal pals and I have made it a tradition to go for an autumn walk. This year, we were looking forward to a walk in Henteleff Park. We had both heard CBC's Terry MacLeod raving about how wonderful the park was and we wanted to explore it!

We planned on going early in the first week of October. The weather cooperated but as so often happens, life had other plans and we had to cancel. Over the next couple of weeks, wind and rain took down a lot of the leaves but we still wanted our autumn walk!

Weather and schedules finally cooperated on Monday October 17. It was mostly sunny with a few light clouds, a light breeze and the temp was 14C/57F!  

Once we arrived at the park (1964 St Mary's Rd) we stopped to look at the information at the newly opened Interpretive Centre and check out the trail map on the welcome sign.
As yet, there is minimal signage along the paths but more will be added as the Henteleff Park Foundation continues to work on its many goals. Even without signage, it is still fairly easy to find your way around on the various trails.

The trails themselves are well groomed. We didn't encounter any tree roots or fallen branches on any of the paths. They are all fairly level with minimal incline/decline in certain areas - but nothing steep. Despite some rain the night before our walk, we encountered only a couple of spots where there were puddles or a small amount of mud on the paths. The rain also pretty much took away the sound of leaves crunching under foot but that certainly didn't dampen our enjoyment of the walk!

Walking along the various trails in Henteleff Park, it is very easy to forget that you are still in the city. It is truly an urban oasis of rustic country beauty! From the moment we stepped onto the trails we felt as if we had been whisked back to the time of early settlers on the prairie landscape with a wide variety of grasses, plants and trees.

Granted, there are a few areas along the outer paths where you can see modern development of homes and apartment blocks bordering the property and the occasional sound of an airplane overhead but that does not detract from the atmosphere.

There is a simple wooden fence that separate some of the prairie grasses from the paths along the first part of the trail. It wasn't hard to imagine early settlers building that type of fence and watching various animals or their livestock munching on those grasses.

The park is home to several species of birds and animals including deer and red foxes. We didn't see those, although my friend got a brief glimpse of a beaver along Normand Creek.

A variety of benches are spread out along the trails. There is a simple old style wooden park bench as well as more elaborate stone benches - one even has a polished surface! They truly add to the uniqueness of the park as do several large colourful stones at the entrance.
I kept thinking of my parents as I walked through the park. They devoted a lot of time to landscaping our farmyard and also did a lot of stonework. They'd have loved Henteleff Park!

Before we left the park, we went back to the Interpretive Centre to look at some of the information again. Sitting on a bench, were two gentleman in conversation. My friend recognized one of them from photos she'd seen online. It was Yude Henteleff himself! We hesitated on whether or not to interrupt but decided we would just say hello and tell him how much we had loved our walk in the park. As it turned out, the gentleman he had been talking with was from the city parks department. Both were pleased to hear our comments!

The park that was once his family's homestead had come oh so close to becoming yet more urban development. Thankfully wiser minds prevailed and the land was rezoned to be developed as a park. The area is rightly named in honour of the Henteleff family. Yude Henteleff and a tireless band of volunteers have dedicated countless hours to creating one of the most beautiful and rustic areas one could ever imagine! They have many short-term and long-term goals yet to accomplish in order to ensure that this spectacular acreage remains for generations to come. I've no doubt they will succeed and am truly grateful for the determination and foresight of the foundation.

Needless to say, we enjoyed our afternoon! Time with a great friend. The weather was perfect! The colours were spectacular! Walking along scenic paths that seemed to transport us back in time and meeting the man whose family worked the land. We could not have asked for more!

I took a lot of photos as we walked. Being legally blind affects how I take my photographs. I'm drawn to the colours and the contrasts in shapes but don't see the finer details. I take a lot of photos on any given walk. Depending on the surroundings I often take 3 or more shots of a similar scene so I'm pretty much guaranteed of getting the pic I really wanted. The LCD screen on my camera is only 3" so I don't really know what I've got till I get home and view it on my 19" computer screen. When I'm reviewing the pics on the PC, I'm always pleasantly surprised to see things in more detail that I hadn't realized were even there. It makes me appreciate the beauty of the season even more!

I've put together a slideshow of the photos I took on our walk. The accompanying music is called "Canadian Waltz" by Mark Howard and is from his album "Old Time Reunion". Watch the video here.

- dn

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