Have you ever walked through the woods? If you have not, I encourage you to find the time to do so. Every aspect of nature is entrancing regardless of the climate. It’s relaxing to watch waves wash over sand and shells in a rhythmic motion. It feels like a melodic massage. Gazing at a dark sky illuminated with twinkling stars never ceases to amaze me. But being surrounded by decades and centuries of diverse species of trees is truly awe-inspiring.
Nature preserves and local parks provide an ambiance for reflection. When I stroll in these environments, I am intrigued by the intricate tapestry of textures. Smooth or rough bark, in varying shades of brown, hug solid trunks. Thick and thin branches somehow grow in all directions yet coexist. A rainbow of flowers sometimes lines the path on which I walk.
I enjoy flat and also more challenging courses. It’s fascinating to hike on a trail during the winter and then do it again in the summer. Each time is different in both minor and major ways. I love noting the subtle changes. Even on the same day but a different year, the panoramic image portrays the passing of time.
Trees reach their arms to the sky as they guide me. The trails veer in different directions, and my heart’s compass leads the way. I breathe deeply and inhale the oxygenated space. I physically and emotionally feel an opening of my soul.
Just last weekend, my cousin took me to a part of Vermont I had not yet experienced. This majestic, green mountain state has been my sanctuary for nearly a decade. Emily moved there with her family a few years ago, and I’m grateful she did. She is an avid hiker, and she took me to a magnificent area.
About halfway into our journey, I realized why hiking shoes are clearly critical. I kept telling Emily I cannot and will not twist my ankle. (Her son’s bar mitzvah was the next day!). I said this in between expletives and close calls as I slipped on damp leaves that rested on rocks. I also noted after two hours that I ought to practice what I preach—hydration is rather necessary. Or perhaps I was intermittently breathless due to our banter and the beauty that surrounded us?
The morning air invigorated my being as it beckoned. The wind blew the crisp, colorful leaves like a person gently blowing out a candle on a cake. Just like birthdays, this season occurs year after year, and the wind knew her role. The sun shone through the trees, slowly rising and lighting the water that trickled over stones.
With each step, I felt free, inspired, and clear. I saw a tree with peeling bark that reminded me of an abstract painting. I listened to the wind section of nature’s orchestra. Soprano and alto birds harmonized with the percussion of drumming twigs and falling leaves.
On our way, I spotted another heart-shaped stone. The first one I found resides next to my bed in Florida. I took that one home; it gifted itself to me also in Stowe. I launched my website and blog in early August. I waded in the river alone that day and paused with gratitude. That summer afternoon in the woods is one I will never forget. I was thrilled and touched to see another heart in a different season. This second one nestled itself amongst maple leaves. And how symbolic as I walked with a dear family member.
I “ooooohed” and “aaaaahed” as Emily kept saying, “Wait for the view. We are almost there.” We passed a stunning, soothing waterfall. I paused, not only so I wouldn’t have a cardiac arrest, but to take photos (which I’ve been posting all month). I watched the sun dance on the pooling water. I listened to and videoed the calming sound as the water hit the bottom. I wanted to bring this home with me to share with you, which I will do next week.
Then I heard, “We are really almost there.” Emily walked a bit ahead. About 20 steps later, I audibly inhaled. An expansive landscape of autumn trees reminded me of a succulent salad. All shades of red, orange, yellow, and green leaves were layered behind and next to one another. This visual feast became more breathtaking as I observed the contrast against the blue sky.
Emily said, “Sit. Right. There.” She pointed to a stump that looked like part of a French horn. After I rather ungracefully squatted on the available space, she asked me to look at her. Emily took a photo with her phone. I am beyond grateful for it.
It was time to hike back to the car. I thanked her repeatedly for her suggestion and for this excursion. My knees creaked and cracked. They joined the crunching of leaves and branches of drumsticks. I nearly wiped out, but it was part of the journey (and another reminder to no longer wear sneakers on a hike).
If we choose to listen, we can learn from all sections of nature’s orchestra. There are times for our voices to be heard. There are times to rest and let the other instruments perform their solos. And there are times to lower our volume and even be silent. Sometimes we must disconnect from our bustling, noisy world to reconnect with ourselves. When you quiet the mind, you let go and feelings begin to flow. Healing happens in the heart. And you return refreshed, rejuvenated, and realigned with your own path.