Walking in nature has become my absolute favorite thing to do on the planet.
Let me try and describe the reasons why.
We go about our days in a rush to get things done. It feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Whether it’s work or just plain life responsibilities, it feels all consuming.
I started walking at a nature park for exercise. I had no idea how this nature park would affect my well-being in every way possible.
The park is miles of pathed and un-pathed trails that are home to many animals, plants, trees, streams and ponds.
The first thing you notice is the beauty of the forest. Trees covered in moss, huge ferns, fallen trees with their exposed roots that are as tall as you, wild flowers, ponds with duck swimming. The smell is what I like to call aromatherapy. The smell of the moist dirt, pine trees, musty and rich fragrance. You can hear birds singing, babbling brooks and the earth beneath your feet as you make your way through the woods.
The wildlife is by far the most amazing part of walking in nature. The deer call this park home. I
have almost walked right into a deer more then once. Mother deer with babies, adolescents on their own. Their beautiful, innocent eyes that look up. They are used to humans and, so they don’t run. They usually watch me for a moment and go back to eating and foraging. The way they move is so graceful and mesmerizing. I feel overwhelmed with, well the best word I could use is gratitude. Gratitude that I get to see these beauties. I get to share the same air and ground with their unbelievable beauty and grace. They are not concerned with how many hours are in a day. Just Being is all that is required.
My favorite animal I have seen is the Barred Owl’s. They are the most magnificent creatures to me. I was never a big fan of owl’s until I started seeing them on my walks. The first time I saw one is still the most incredible experience I have had at the park.
I was coming around a bend in the trail and was stopped dead in my tracks. A shock went through my whole body like electricity. 10 yards ahead and just to the right of the trail was a stump approximately 4 feet high. Perched on it was a Barred Owl. He seemed to be napping and completely unconcerned with my presence. I felt like I was frozen where I stood. My heart was racing, it felt like fear and excitement at the same time. As I stared at him and he turned his head 90 degrees away from me. I slowly walked closer, took out my phone and got the camera ready. I made a ticking sound with my mouth to see if I could get his attention. He immediately turned his head toward me and I took the picture. I put my phone
down and we looked at each other. I was about 5 yards away from him. He still looked unconcerned. His eyes were dark as night and I know this sound like a cliché, soulful and wise. I felt like we had a moment in that gaze. I decided to gradually move forward down the path. He watched me as I came closer and closer until I was parallel with the tree stump. I didn’t stop, I didn’t want to scare him. I slowly crept down the path looking back at him as I went. When he was out of sight, I realized I was breathing hard. I must have been holding my breath. When I got to a park bench, I sat down to collect myself. I was almost in tears over the close encounter with that beautiful creature. I felt almost blessed to have been so close and to make such a connection, it was overwhelming. Years later I still walk slowly around that bend in case he comes back for a nap. The picture I took was completely blurry, but he is forever ingrained in my mind.
I have seen many more owls’ since then, none as close. You need to look in the trees, be aware of your surroundings or you will walk right past them.
I have seen a lot of other beautiful creatures at the park, redheaded woodpeckers, bunny’s, squirrels, chipmunks, ducks, geese.
I was also fortunate enough to see a Nutria. I was walking next to a creek and I saw something
swimming. I thought for sure it was a beaver. The creek is named Beaver Creek and well, his head looked like a beaver. He started swimming for the bank and when he got out, he shook the water off and his thick fur puffed out. He had a long skinny tail, so I knew he wasn’t a beaver. He stood grooming himself for a moment. I stood very still and just watched him. I had that scared and excited feeling again. Like I was witnessing something special. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone else got to see this guy like I was seeing him. I felt somewhat special but not in an egotistical way, it was almost like a spiritual experience. No, it was. Just like with the Owl. A connection with nature and to the universe. The energy that is beyond the human body that we are all a part of. That is what I was feeling. I wasn’t separate from anything at that moment. It was a profound connection to all that is.
I was not brought up in a religious home and I have never participated in any organized religion. I would say I am a spiritual person. When I spend time in nature, I have a deep sense of spirit. It is the pace that I notice. Everything is patient, plants, trees, animals. I can slow down and just be. Nothing to rush.
I visit the park as often as I can. I used to invite friends to walk with me but anymore, I like going alone. It feels like my time to just be. To feel connection with the universe and a connection with everyone and everything on earth.