It’s a bit unseasonably warm where I live – but it’s been that way all winter (spoiler alert: mosquitos will be awful this year). All through February and March I have been out amongst the trees and tall grasses trekking around to sit and read, drink my tea, and sometimes write. Sometimes I’d actually just walk for hours and see where I ended up, or what I could see, or how far I could go before I had to turn back due to impending nightfall.
I’d get really far sometimes, blazing miles into a loop of trail, or sometimes I would walk slowly and notice the leaves and branches, listen for critters skittering about in the brush, and not get very far. Sometimes I’d practically get out of the car, walk ten feet, and sit down and read for awhile. There was never really a mission to ‘go’ anywhere – and there’s great release in that.
We live in a world where everything is fast paced, instant, go-go-go-go-go until you drop dead. Stillness is unheard of. Stillness is frowned upon – it means we’re not generating content for facebook likes, or working until we fall over from exhaustion. In fact, stillness often means we’re taking time to stop, observe, and think – and we all know what THINKING does to people. Yes, I’m a bit of a hippie.
We live in a state of chronic busyness. We’re always moving, always stressed. Even when we go hiking or ‘out’ it’s with other people we spend the time chatting and distracted from the world around us. We are too caught up in ourselves to see anything bigger. This is why I often walk alone – despite weird looks and hushed conversations from passers by. Yes. I am that weird girl who is out in the woods sitting on a rock sketching, or the odd looking girl who’s walking painfully slow down a trail looking up, down, and all around at everything. I stop and notice the shadows, or reflections in puddles. I sit quietly and watch the deer go by. I get out of my head and out of my frantic life for a bit and just notice and reconnect with the world around me.
My most recent walk was Easter. Despite the warm weather of this winter most of the Earth had stayed asleep through February and March. Leafless trees, no green, puddles of mud, short clipped grass with no bulbs in sight, yellow dried out tall grass, and only the occasional squirrel to really speak of. April has refreshed this more bleak landscape. Redwing blackbirds, geese, and songbirds were hopping around and up in the trees. Spring peepers (frogs) were deafeningly loud near one of the shallow marshy ponds favoured by ducks. Traces of green are starting to show on the trees. And of course- the flowers. Bulbs are everywhere – bright yellow daffodils and the many different hues of tulips and crocuses have crept back into the scenery once more.
Walking is a great escape. I get to breathe. I let the millions of small mostly insignificant things (in the long run) fall away for a few hours and reconnect with the other forms of life around me. I see things put back into perspective. I realise the things that are actually important again, and start to shelve the things that aren’t. I get out of my head and into the reality I’ve been overlooking. I become myself once more.