It had been a theme of February — tired. Work gets crazy busy. Training for spring races begins. As much as I try to embrace the gray, it’s gray. The weather can’t make up its mind. February is a grind. I feel it deep in my bones. So part of me wanted to stay on the couch, comfortable after running a 5K in the morning;. “I don’t have the energy to go out,” I thought.
Which is exactly why I needed to go out into the woods.
I stayed close to home, venturing back to Wilson-Tuscarora State Park. I went there before with Scott, but it was before the winter, when everything was starting to go dark. The mud and the bare trees were still the main feature this late February day, but this time there was promise in the air. Spring was coming. You only needed to relax and look for it.
There were plenty of cars around as the Sunday afternoon turned into the perfect day to get outside. The temperatures reached the mid50s. The sun was emerging. The wind was a bit strong, but mild. I entered the trail and quickly came across a guy and his dog. The mud was sticky, a bit thick in spots, but not prohibitive. I heard my cell phone chime in my pocket. I had forgotten to put it on airplane mode (to keep the camera but ditch the data). I made the mistake of checking my Twitter feed and immediately became a bit tense. Work was stressing me out. I closed out of the app, turned off my data and started to breath deeply.
Look around. This was my invitation to look around. Be in this moment. I thought back to an Instagram post from Mt. Irenaeus that morning: “If you find it in your heart — take the time for a walk; see what lays around you as well as what is before you.”
One the trail there were few signs of spring. No bulbs that I could notice, but plenty of soft green — some grass, some moss. The wet weather produced mushrooms on tree bark. Life was evident in the smallest details at my feet. Then there vistas — beautiful outlooks over the creek, marina and ultimately Lake Ontario. With each step and each breath I found myself settling into the beauty of the moment.
I went over to the beach and strolled along there. Others were also along the beach. A family played with a frisbee. A couple walked their dog. Despite the activity, I found peace. I sat on a log, smoothed over by the weather and looked out at the lake. The waves were crashing against the shore in their rhythmic and melodic way. I took my phone out again, this time to open the Insight Timer app. I set it for seven minutes, closed my eyes, and meditated to the sound of the waves on the beach. Occasionally I heard laughter or the jingle of a dog trotting on his leash.
OK, it sounds a bit like an Oprah-scripted moment, but the peace and beauty of the moment warmed my body. I felt tall. I felt content. I felt as if I had walked off the bad spirits that were pestering me this month.
Whenever I feel I don’t have the time or energy to go into the woods, this is my cue: I must go.
Date: Feb. 28, 2016
Location: Wilson-Tuscarora State Park
Total distance: 2.18 miles
Elevation: 28 feet
Duration: 1 hour, 11 minutes
Weather: 55 degrees, moderate wind
Hiked with: Solo