I went out for a walk today. Yes, I too was shocked. I brought a book to finish, but kept getting distracted by the incredible houses in my neighborhood.
I meandered over to Forest Park, which is quite large. I sat and finished my book, and then off I went, wandering through the forest. I was the only one on the actual paths winding through the trees; everyone else was on the road. Odd. Why would you choose asphalt over a small dirt path? Possibly because the paths were not well-maintained. Often I had to duck or turn to avoid overhanging trees and bushes. But that just makes things more interesting, if you ask me.
I found myself wishing I had someone to wander with me. To hold my hand and stroll together through the trees, getting lost and just enjoying the soft breeze through the green space.
Oh well. I still enjoyed the walk, the nature, the clearing of the mind. I did find myself thinking about other forests I've walked in...
--Going for a walk reminded me of my daily walks while at the mortgage company. Remember, I'd been working out and was in fairly fantastic shape. Then my knees stopped working. I had to sit for two months of summer, and I gained weight and lost muscle. I decided to do something to get moving again and to help heal, and one day I headed out of the office to see what I could find. Lo and behold, a well-maintained creeekside trail awaited me. Perfect! The creek was all brown and slow-moving, but there were some trees, and also some wild blackberry bushes. There was shade and some sun, a breeze, and the scent of ripening berries. The traffic sounds were easily muted and/or ignored, and I could just lose myself in the nature. Soon I explored more of the area and found more, longer trails to walk. Quickly I was walking for my entire lunch hour. A whole hour, every day. It was the best part of my day, by far. My mind was clear, my body felt good, sunshine warmed my shoulders, and I occasionally sampled the big fat blackberries hanging on the branches. I think those walks are all that kept me going for the last six months of my employment there.
--Today I went up a little rise covered with a root system, which quickly called to mind the state park that two of my teammates and I worked in in New Jersey. We had to shovel wet bark into wheelbarrows, then wheel them uphill and quickly spread the bark over the ground at a few ropes courses. It was hard work, but we still had a great time. Even if it was just the free lunch (including yummy cookies!) that came after a few hours. --We can't forget the forest that we all lived in for two months, in New Jersey. The trees and plants protected us from the weather too much; the sun didn't beat down mercilessly, and the rain didn't flood everything. The forest just took care of it, like it's supposed to. It was so harsh to return to the 'civilized' world where we are prey to all that Mother Nature pours down upon us, whether it be sun or rain. My favorite part, though, was the quiet. Waking up in the hogan, with just sounds of birds chirping, squirrels moving through the underbrush, it sounds cliche, but oh, it was so peaceful. You can't help having a quiet, serene mindset in that environment. Waking up can't be a pain in the ass, because it's just too wonderful.
--The paths and quiet trees reminded me of the hike that D and I did in 2003, up a mountain on the Olympic Peninsula. That was a really tough hike, it was 2 or 3 miles of straight up switchbacks, and oh, it was murder. We had a less-than-ful 2 liter bottle of water to share, and no food. It was the hardest physical thing I'd done in a really long time. The payoff at the end, after we tottered through the narrow path next to eighty-degree drop-offs, then clambered up a rope and on to a rock outcropping, was incredible. It felt like we were on the top of the world. Crescent Lake lay before us, light playing in the fine mist. The surrounding mountains were pure evergreen. Beyond that, the Strait of Juan de Fuca sparkled.
--The forest-ness reminded me, of course, of home. My dad lives again right at the forest on top of a little mountain. The whole thing used to be raw forest, but now some houses have been built in there. Behind the house, though, is still deep forest. You can't just walk through a Cascade forest cavalierly, like you can on the East Coast. Where I'm from, the ferns and small bushes take up the whole forest floor. The pine trees tower overhead, occasionally you'll run into a crystal-clear babbling stream. It's absolutely gorgeous.
Wherever you are, friends, go for a walk in the woods. It will be worth it.