Hanson Family Moose Spotting_jpg_t285

Throughout the past few weeks, I've been caught up in several conversations around just how lucky I am/we are to be Canadian. I guess these conversations become common around this time of year-what, with Canada Day, the start of summer, greenery abound. It struck me that, amid conversation around healthcare, patriotism and, of course, hockey, the conversation inevitably turned to the great Canadian outdoors.

I would hope that every Canadian has, more than once, taken the time to consider the greatness that we are blessed with right outside of our backdoors. We are truly lucky. There are (at least) five Canadian 'wild' things I know I am grateful for, without needing to dig too deep at all. From the perspective of a proud Canadian and self-proclaimed outdoor generalist, I'd like to give credit to all that our great land has to offer:

1. Fresh Air. Nothing feels more refreshing than breathing crisp, clean (mountain? Okay, I may be biased) air. My first hike this Spring took me to the top of Ha Ling peak, overlooking beautiful Canmore, Alberta on an uncharacteristically deserted day. Standing atop the peak, I couldn't help but revel at the simple luxury of breathing in the (seemingly) untainted Rocky Mountain Air (and, of course, the spectacular view!) Thank you, Canada, for your fresh air.

2. Clean Water. Last summer, I had my first opportunity to swim in a glacier fed lake (okay, to say I swam is stretching it… More like jumped in, panicked as the cold sucked the air out of my lungs and scrambled back to the warmth of shore.) Growing up on the countryside, I have always been hydrated by well water. I used to think there was nothing comparable. Until I experienced, Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park. It was here, I came to appreciate Canada's clean waters. Thank you, Canada.

3. Green. Just, green, in general. So simple. Yet so… (fill in your own adjective here-refreshing? calming? luscious?) Growing up, no family trip to Algonquin Park was complete without a ceremonious trip to the Lookout Trail. It is from the lookout itself that the awesome array of green's, as if splattered on a blank canvas, first presented themselves to me. A different shade for each tree, it seemed. I've since come to appreciate the same palette in the moss of the Juan de Fuca straight, the lakes of Banff National park and the grass in my own Ontario backyard. A shout out to Canada for… green.

4. Diversity. I feel so lucky to be living in a country with such natural diversity. I've been fortunate enough (yes, I truly mean fortunate, despite the horror stories you might here about Trans-Canada travel) to drive across our great country (unfortunately, missing Quebec and the Maritimes) three times in the past year. I experienced the rolling wheat fields of Saskatchewan, the beautiful shores of Lake Superior and the cascading peaks of Alberta's Rockies. I came to appreciate the vast diversity Canada had to offer. When looking to expand my traveling horizons a few years ago I was considering an array of tropical destinations. A close friend of mine asked how I could be so eager to travel abroad when I had yet to experience all Canada had to offer. Looking back, I realize what wise words those were. I could travel across this country countless times and never get bored. I am truly grateful for the natural diversity Canada has to offer.

5. The People. I have always believed that spending time outdoors changes people. Growing up as I did, fully immersed in the outdoors, I've met a really fantastic number of individuals. It is those who have shared my love for the outdoors, however, who have been the ones that I've come to call my best and most inspiring friends. It's something that I cannot fully put into words, but something I find undeniable. Traveling the country only reinforced my belief. I have met nothing but smile-bearing, hello-waving, truly friendly people on the trails I have traveled. And for that, I am grateful to the outdoor adventure loving people of Canada.

I actually have to stop myself here. I could go on, no doubt, for pages. I know that each and every person will find their own fortune within the great Canadian outdoors. These are but mine. What are yours?