Whenever I need a little time to clear my mind, connect with God, get away from it all, exercise, seek out nature, enjoy beauty, be inspired, take pictures or think uninterrupted thoughts, there is a path that I like to hike. It follows the river for about a mile. I wander over quaint little footbridges, around fallen trees, alongside rapids and calm, up acorn studded hills and down again, stomping through the crunchy Autumn leaves. I stop to peer into thickets teeming with birds of every size, shape, temperament and variety that I can imagine. . . and oh, the beautiful songs they sing! I come home with a different video every day, not necessarily for the video itself, but I'm trying to tape the bird songs. They are so various and beautiful. I'm pretty sure that I heard wild turkeys the other day, I want someone else to listen to the recording to try to help me identify whatever mourn some call I heard. I have photographed robins, goldfinches, woodpeckers, owls, ducks, hawks, vultures, finches and sparrows. Those are the varieties that I can think of off the top of my head. If I check my Field Guide I would certainly come up with more. We have seen deer, squirrels, otters and a fox. (I say we, because Mark is always the one who spots the animals when he goes with me, it seems I only have eyes for birds.) We have watched the salmon spawn.
I go out to walk in nature, and it caresses me. I can't explain how it does, but it just brings me peace. My Mother and I were talking about it the other day, and she said it too, something about being in nature is just soothing and calming, not like that's really news to anyone, but it bears retelling, don't you think?
Note: Today, September 20, 2010, Nina Bagley posted the perfect poem that I have borrowed to share here. I have not see the book from whence it came . . .
"from mary oliver's radiant new book of poetry/prose, Swan:"
How I Go to the Woods
Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.
I don't really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.