A Walk in the Woods
At the last minute I decided to take a walk along the valley trail before heading to the gardens. I have not been on the trails in many weeks. In fact, the trout lilies were blooming last time I visited. A heavy tree canopy and understory makes the entrance to the trail feel like a portal. I was reminded of the large Magnolia grandiflora I walk under each time I make my way to the gardens. When I pass under it I shed the rest of the day, worries and all, and enter the gardens light and relaxed.
The stream, which can flow freely after a rain, was a tiny trickle that attracted several Robins. The song of what I think is a meadowlark, echoed throughout the valley. According to the sign a bit down the trail, I was walking in a very well-know, well-studied woods; a perfect example of a Western Mesophytic Forest.
A friend of mine walks these woods often and writes about his time in the Ault Park Woodland in his blog, Woods Walking. For Rudy, walking the trails in the woods is a meditative process, a time for him to reflect, pray and contemplate life and its meaning. For Rudy, woods walking is a spiritual practice. When he walks these trails he does not see a canopy of unchanging green, he sees the subtle changes the trails, trees, vegetation and the stream. The woods are to him what the gardens are to me.
I will have to walk the trails more often. The gardens bring me much peace and at times I feel like all the superfluous stuff melts away leaving my mind clear and open. Much of the time though I am preoccupied with taking pictures, planning what to do next in my gardens and thinking about what needs to be done around the adopt-a-plot area. It may do me good to walk, camera free, in the woods where all I can do is listen to the birds sing and watch the flow of the stream makes its way through the valley.