How do you feel when you walk through the woods?
Do you feel anxious and scared or do you feel relaxed and inspired?
The woods have long been a favorite place for me. In childhood, my sister and I built forts in the woods and fields behind our house. We joined our local neighborhood friends to gather downed logs, sticks, and other found natural objects such as stones and leaves. It was a fun and imaginative time in my life. We spent hours in those woods.
On rare occasions during our early marriage, we hiked in New York, Delaware, Maryland, and Vermont. We lived in the first three of those states and found some very beautiful areas that restored one’s sense of belonging with nature. At least, a walk in the woods did that for us.
Then, there was a couple of decades that we did not venture into the woods. Life became busy with job obligations and raising our family. Those years were the times filled with strollers, and awareness of dangers, and hyper-vigilance that is needed to hike with your young children in the woods. Many times a visit to the zoo or a walk around the neighborhood replaced spending time in the woods.
At some point, were able to get back to hiking amongst the trees. There have been many a routine, yet calming hike. And, then there have been memorable hikes in scenic places like along the Door County shoreline, the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the Canadian Rockies, or even along the Nepali Cliffs on Kauai. Like Frederick the Mouse from the the Leo Lionni story, if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can imagine myself on those hikes and relive the feeling of adventure and awe. I stored the images from the hike.
Over the last few months, my husband and I have gotten back to hiking in the woods. Our cabin is near the Timm’s Hill Trail in Wisconsin. You can ski the groomed trails in the winter or hike them in the summer, as we did this Labor Day weekend. A nature minded neighbor has also cut more trails through the woods that we can conveniently pick up right on the side of our road in Northern Wisconsin.
The convenience makes a walk in the woods even more inviting and inspiring. We are lucky to live in a state where the forests are plentiful and well cared for. The trees are our friends. And, while that sounds cliche, I know it is true. Humans cannot live without trees. To walk among them, appreciating their beauty, reminds me of how much we need the woods. It also soothes my mind. A walk in the woods allows me to refocus on all the good there is in the world.