Take a Walk in the Woods…
Take a Walk in the Woods: It Could Change Your Life
By Bob Snyder, Volunteer Park Interpreter
Understanding the big picture of our relationship with our natural world is increasingly difficult as population increases and we become a more urban society. That sense of oneness with nature that writers such as John Muir and Barry Lopez talk about is a quest many of us treasure.
At Tryon Creek we believe the more we know and understand about nature the more we will want to protect and preserve it. Our urban forest gives us a special opportunity to find a sense of wonder and discovery, and a desire to protect nature.
Have you listened to the forest lately?
Have you walked slowly and listened?
Closed your eyes and listened again?
We all want to understand nature better and be more at home in the forest. One key to getting to know the forest is to slow down and listen to it. When you walk slowly, stop occasionally and listen carefully and you will learn amazing things about nature and will feel part of it.
The Pacific wren sings
The next time you take a walk, find a quiet place, stop, and listen for a few minutes. What did you hear? Now close your eyes and listen again. What did you hear that is different? Take a few minutes on each of your walks to slow down, listen, and imagine what is going on in the trees and shrubs around you.
As Seasons Change
The fall is a wonderful time of year to learn a great deal about the forest. All the animals and birds are preparing for winter, gathering food, and getting ready for the cold and rain. The leaves are beginning to fall and the big leaf maples and vine maples are more beautiful every day.
The Afternoon light…
The afternoon is a perfect time for a walk in the woods. The afternoon light playing across the trees and the fall foliage is beautiful. Find a place to stop and watch the light, feel the breeze play through the tree tops. You can watch them move. The animals and birds notice the light and breeze as well. How do you think they respond? Watch and listen and the forest will tell you. Look past the first trees and shrubs you see, and occasionally you will see some of the secrets of the forest. Look into the heart of the forest and listen, it will teach you amazing things.
Being comfortable in the woods and becoming one with it can be an inspiring, transformational experience. Once in a while stop and watch a spider in its web in the afternoon light and see what you can learn. When we find that inspiration, we begin to understand how extraordinary it can be to live with nature rather than just being an outsider walking through.
One of the special advantages at Tryon Creek is that this natural area is open year round and we can watch the seasonal changes. Some of those changes are very spectacular: As the light green big leaf maple leaves appear and the trillium pop up for their very short visit with us in the spring. (Did you know trillium can live over 100 years?) Explore the insects and invertebrates as they make their departure in winter and reappear in spring.
It is easy to walk through the forest enjoying the peace and quiet and miss the real connection with nature because we are so concerned about the topic of the week, or where we are we going for dinner, or any of the very legitimate concerns we face each day. It takes a concerted effort to close out those distractions and concentrate on listening to and learning from the forest to become a part of it.
The heart is tuned to the quietness that the stillness of nature inspires. We invite you to join us at Tryon Creek as we seek to help our visitors discover the secrets of wild places so we can more effectively protect them and help them flourish. Become aware of the very special natural world around you, in your back yard as well as in the forest, you will be glad you did and it will change your life.
So, take a walk, slow down, be quiet and listen to the forest. You will learn a lot more, and it will be much more interesting than watching the evening news, and you will feel much better. Besides, what you learn will actually be true!
“Go to the forest and get its good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energies, while cares drop off like autumn leaves.”
– John Muir