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I like to explore green spaces.

See those little pockets of green all over my neighbourhood? I’m attracted to them like a magnet to steel.

Since this has been my summer of wandering (and the summer of beautiful weather), and training for my upcoming 100 km walk, I’ve had a chance to explore a lot of green spaces. It’s become a habit of mine – scan a Google map, find a patch of green I haven’t explored yet, and go.

Sometimes I find lovely parks I didn’t know existed, with manicured paths, and child-filled play structures.

Often though, I walk past the manicured parks to the next green space.

My favourite discoveries are not the parks. My favourites are the untamed, unruly, un-manicured spaces that scream out to my inner child “EXPLORE ME!”

And explore them I do, these little pockets of wildness. I climb over underbrush, hop over puddles, shimmy under fallen trees, and push through thick branches, until I am so deep inside the green box on the map that the city just outside the boundary ceases to exist.

Inside the green I find hidden streams, magical trees, colourful mushrooms, raucous wildflowers, and – when I’m lucky – deer.

What I find most of all, though, in those untamed green spaces, is my own wild heart.

I remember what it means to be wild and unruly. I remember what it feels like to be free of the tidy little boxes I let society place me in. I feel the lilt come back to my step that tells me I am following my heart and not the expectations of others.

From the moment I step off the well-traveled path and into the green square on the map, I am transported back to my childhood, when I used to roam the woods on our farmland, imagining myself a gypsy or an explorer.

The child in me revived, I revel in each discovery. I stare in awe at the leaves quivering in the breeze and twinkling in the sunlight. I marvel at the patterns in the bark of trees. I giggle at the bare patches where it looks like fairies have danced. I look deeply into the magical eyes of deer.

It doesn’t take much to give my wild nature space to breath. Just a little green shape on a map.

Go… find one of your own.

And if you want a companion, take me along.

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