Finding Renewal in Nature
A couple of weeks ago, we found out that some of our State Parks allow dogs in designated rooms. Ever since Stella, the golden retriever, has been a part of our lives, our state park visits were limited to day hikes. Or we relied on our friends to keep her for a couple of days. Last year, we discovered a beautiful state park in Tennessee that rented pet friendly cabins, and Stella (and we) loved the closed in porch where she could watch deer, squirrels and birds going about their daily lives in the woods.
This year, we reserved a cabin in Brown County State Park, a large expanse of property south of Indianapolis, covered with wooded ravines, several lakes and amazing vistas overlooking this large forest. Spring has definitely arrived. Along the winding road to the top, views open out onto the layers of greens in all of their conjugations punctuated with redbud, dogwood and pine. It’s quite the sight to see a large living forest before my eyes, moving as one in the breeze, the sound of new leaves fluttering to my ears. I hear birds, happy in their habitat, and watch the turtles on the logs, soaking in the sun.
In this accidented land, every trail goes up and down and down and up. Stella has her nose to the ground as she follows the twists and turns of the path. She plunges up the wooden staircases, pausing at the top, for her humans who are lagging behind. I sniff the air as she does, taking in the scent of spring flowers, of wet wood, of earth and sun. After a nice climb, the stairs go back down, and the trail winds around a peaceful lake, taking us through emerging cattails, crossing small rivulets, and I start to run alongside Stella, feeling the excitement of discovery, listening to the hum of nature, soaking it all in.
For three days, we hike and cook outside, returning to the cabin at the end of the day to read and rest. Our sleep comes easy after the sun goes down and in the morning, the sunlight wakes us from our slumber. We unplug from the news, from the constant barrage of information, from the “need to do”. Instead, we follow another more ancient clock, one that has been setting the time for eons. We follow the dance of butterflies, knowing their lifespan is so different from ours. We see mushrooms pop up overnight. The news in the forest this spring is all about growth and reproduction, and symbiotic relationships.
As we renew ourselves, we shake the dust off of our feet from that other world so often messed up by our human foibles. We pick up the strength of the plant pushing through the earth, breathe in the pure air put out by new leaves, take on the energy of life growing around us. Time soaking in the natural world washes away the dirt of our human lives. I come out the other side with a new skin. And, like Stella, I jump back into my regular life, giving as much love as I can. Because, in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?