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They remind me of tsunami waves, these mountains; frozen mid-air despite the rocketing temperature of mid-August, as though they would unhesitatingly envelope me if they could.
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I wonder if this is what losing yourself in nature feels like.
The car ride to Banff National Park had been despicable. I had positioned my sullen face towards the window, the tornado of my anger being fed by the realization that, after a painfully uneventful summer, the only travel destination our family is indulging ourselves to is placed a mere two hours’ drive away. Reflecting back, I suppose I did not contrast much to my two-year old sister in the back seat. In fact, I do not recall Kailey seething at the utter unfairness of our mother’s distaste towards costly airplane tickets – I may have acted a tad more childish than the baby.
Now, however, as my lungs expand with crisp air and my eyes – which had been rather tired of the precise, planned lines of architecture from the city – hungrily feast on the glorious scenery, I am astounded that such a place exists in the world. I take in the crooked mountain tops, the iridescent, glittering lake, and the sky, the sky, which seem to encase me beautifully like a clear glass snow globe. I absorb all of it, compelling myself to commit them to memory until I recall: I live so close to here that I could come here every weekend, if I wanted to.
I grin like a child with a year-long pass to an amusement park.
I was born in South Korea, a country of developed markets but one in which smog covers the atmosphere like thick, heavy sheets on humid summer nights. It fills the lungs of its people with foul chemicals despite the various air masks over their noses and mouths which are manufactured in different colours and designs, as though a vibrant appearance would somehow become the veil that hides the fact that unwanted black dust lands on skin and surfaces or that clear skies can only be depicted in pictures and books. Where I come from, star gazing is a mere romanticized dream. The smog envelops everything. Thus, even after three years of living here, I cannot help but gawk at the endless display of nature in Canada.
We head to Bow Falls. My family and I follow the worn-down trail beside the falls and head up. It’s breathtaking; the lake seems to be weaving itself together, the different shades of blues and whites creating the most intricate pattern on this wide, water woven blanket. We all become drunk off the beauty. Even Kailey becomes so giddy that she whines to be let down to walk on her own. We rush up the trail, radiating smiles and adrenaline.
When particles are heated, they vibrate energetically. That is how we look right now, my sisters, mom, and I; we appear to be trembling from our exhilarating discoveries.
We arrive at the town of Banff. Straight out of a story book, the little town is surrounded by massive mountains as if Mother Nature has made it her duty to protect this delightful village. I content myself by adventuring into a few of the many unique stores. We indulge on Beaver Tails, fried pastry topped with sweets and syrup that my taste buds thank me for.
It seems like a fantasy, how this wondrous fairy land exists so close to me. During the drive back home, I close my eyes. Images of gleaming lakes and gigantic mountains lull me to sleep; I paint clear skies in my dreams.
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