I don't make new year's resolutions. But I do center myself during those quiet days from December 26-31. It's about getting really quiet and refocusing on areas of my life where I've lost my way. The list was long this year.
And although I live in a forest surrounded by nature every day, I had lost the spark of curiosity and wonder that led me on weekend excursions to new and familiar places. This realization hit me about the same time as an REI year-end sale e-blast.
So with renewed intentions clear and strong, a bullet list of Tennessee parks and hiking trails, and new camping gear from REI, in 2019... it's time to get back to nature.
Like, really back to nature. Not just 'pull off to the roadside marker and take in the view' back. But 'revel in the newness and challenge of trails across Tennessee and build up the endurance for the BIG hikes' back. (more on that hiking list in a future post!)
So I started close to home and simple.
Bells Bend Park is a Metro Park in Davidson County about 30 minutes from home. And although I've lived here more than 13 years, I'd never visited. Bells Bend is rolling hills and meadows, Cumberland River and big sky. My meadow walk was about three miles and I didn't see more than six people the afternoon I visited.
The silence of the afternoon was striking in the way a room is when the person with the largest personality exits. At first, it feels like something is missing...until a deep still quiet whooshes in and reveals new things to notice.
Reflections on the river. Wrens and chickadees scurrying in dense underbrush for seeds and berries. Wind in the meadow grasses, like applause for the sunny day. Thistles. Mud puddles. Dog tracks and deer prints. A great blue heron on alert next to a pond. A bench to rest and listen. New-to-me bird calls to identify. Wondering when red-winged blackbirds will sing their musical trill, like they did in Wisconsin's Horicon Marsh where I grew up.
Experiencing nature doesn't have to be faraway or expensive, require training or vaccinations, or result in profound life shifts. Of course, it CAN be all those things and more. And if you can make that happen...GO FOR IT!
And during the in between, the Sundays with no plans, the weeknights when days get longer... during those times, find a new place or return to one of your favorites and soak up the nature that's waiting for you just 15 or 30 minutes away.