Sometimes I don't want to go out in the woods. When life gets hectic, the work of getting my things together, making decisions about what to bring with and where to go, seem like one more chore. But I go. And when I am out there it is so obvious that it is where I needed to be, especially in those times, that I wonder how I could have ever thought differently.
First, my steps are quick, my mind buzzing with things and thoughts. I try to slow down. I breathe. I listen. If nothing attracts my attention I focus on my steps. I forces me to be in that moment. Have you ever tried to think about how to walk while hurrying down stairs? If you are on automatic pilot, your body does it seamlessly. If you think about it, you cannot rush. You might not even be able to balance. It throws off your whole system. So when I think about my feet and where they are going, what they are stepping on, I am in the moment. I pay attention. Then I notice things that I would have just walked past a minute before. A frog jumping, a growth on a plant, a track in the ground.
It is then that the walk changes to an experience. The world unfolds before me. I have no expectations, no deadline. I am just open to whatever comes.
While in that mode of being, I entered the bog. Watching where each foot goes becomes looking at the mosses underfoot. Soon I am stuffing samples into my pockets. Tiny mushrooms dot the hillocks of sedges and needles. While kneeling down for that perfect shot, I hear the sound of water burbling. A few steps and there is a trench a foot deep with a small stream coursing through it. It seem to come out of no where, a spring or seep further back in the brush. Ducking beneath tamarack branches leads my eyes to a plant that I have not seen on the land before. White Rattlesnake Root! It was one straggly plant, but if it is there, there are others around. Then a few steps away I see white blossoms and familiar looking leaves. A few photos and time spent looking through the books reveals another "New to the list" species. Swamp Lousewort! The leaves looked familiar because I have seen it's sibling plant, Wood Betony, in the surrounding woods.
The overwhelming feeling of contentment lasts far beyond the walk itself. It stretches into my day, seeps into my art, and softens my sleep. So in the midst of life, make time for the things that bring you contentment and joy. They make the rest bearable.