The danger of exploring.

I think that in exploring, as in anything, there are cycles or waves. Never linear.

And somehow, I have ended up in a pause of sorts.

What’s motivating this pause? What am I afraid of?

Lots of things.

First, in terms of actual on-the-ground exploration… I’m afraid of getting shot.

There are two ways this might happen.

First, a hunter might shoot me. Sure sure hunting season is only certain times of the year… but that’s, like, a lot. And also some of the best times for walking in the bush exploring. Has no one else ever talked about this blatant danger? I fear my fluorescent yellow toque will only do so much in terms of protection. I’m concerned that a hunter half-asleep in his blind will notice me moving about and shoot shoot shoot and boom I’m down for the count, either dead or in a lot of pain wishing I was dead. I have heard enough stories of excited hunters accidentally shooting their own hunting partners when they’re just 20 feet apart in very familiar bush or whatever, so to me this is a legitimate fear.

Second, I’m afraid a paranoid landowner will shoot me. Yes, this is a trespassy scenario for sure. And I try to do this well, I have endeavoured to phone landowners to request permission – this is something my brother (who hunts) has helped me do and understand, plus I remember as a girl that hunters would come right up to the house to request permission to hunt on my dad’s land. So I knew this was a thing. It’s not really my favourite thing to do but I’m getting better at it. I think. But even still what if I request from the wrong person or their partner didn’t know permission had been granted and the other one’s out there with their shotgun or whatever? I think some folk prone to rural living are also prone to owning firearms and using them a lot a lot. (Consider all the stories of wayward canines shot to death.)

Perhaps that is the main thing.

I don’t know how to say this without invoking an involuntary repulsion but nevertheless, during the pandemic lockdown et cetera, when travel was canceled, I grew restless (didn’t we all) and began pushing at every edge. I developed a fascination with the boundaries of my own tiny city, the rural municipality, and road allowances that go nowhere. I would often stand at the edge, staring at the shifting landscape as developers met the wild, or a road met an untraversable swamp.

Anyway. That urge to explore has abated. The last time I explored a road allowance I was quite afraid I would be shot as it was hunting season and my exploring-prone friend and I did encounter hunting blinds, confirming that my fears were well-founded.

So I guess I’m always afraid of getting shot at.

But I’m not entirely satisfied with safety.

If the general public is encouraged to explore… where is the fun in that?

I think a way forward this year is for me to explore the parts I still have not — which require venturing onto people’s yards in the countryside to obtain permission in person. The way a hunter might. I have reason to be optimistic here. The last time I approached a landowner on their yard to request permission to explore, it was a major success.

So. Onward.