The walk started later than expected, the sun was already up and the trail filled with riders, runners, walkers and an occasional dog or two. Although still early by many accounts, not early enough to have the mindfulness walk that was intended. It will be the best it can be. The trail is 5 miles all around a beautiful reservoir, filled with fish for the many fishermen adorning the sides or riding in rowboats.
As the walk began, my ears were filled with the sound of the dirt and gravel under my feet, the cars driving by and people talking to each other as they walked together. I began to be annoyed that people would be talking when this was an opportunity to listen to nature, however I realized quite quickly that I was on the mindfulness walk, they were exercising and catching up! I would be doing the same if I had someone to do it with! I pushed those thoughts out of my mind every time they creeped in so that I could stay focused on the moment.
As I passed the water I could hear it softly lap against the rocks. As I turned to go into the woods, the sounds changed. The cars were muffled and almost unrecognizable. There were less people talking and more sounds of gravel due to tires or feet. Slowly, the sounds of the wildlife reserve became more prominent, the birds singing, the rustling of the leaves as animals milled about under the canopy of plants. The buzz of breakfast time for the inhabitants of the reserve became clearer. I smiled.
As the walk continued, I noticed the sun creeping through the trees shining spots of gold and white on the dirt and gravel path. The shadows of tree branches dancing with the wind. I spotted a chipmunk burrow into the ground, something I had never noticed before. I began to wonder where they are burrowing around my house given the number of chipmunks taking residence under my bird feeders in the backyard. I pushed those thoughts out to focus again on what I was seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling, working to stay present in my walk.
The reservoir is very green. Most of the trees are firs of some type and although there are some that lose leaves, much of this is always green. I noticed there were different shades of green, reminding me of hills of Ireland. Every once in a while there would be a burst of color from wildflowers that were growing through rocks, by trees, and about the trail. There were bright yellow flowers and bright red flowers along with some pink and white smaller flowers. For all I know these are weeds, but they are very pretty weeds and broke up the shades of green perfectly.
There was a slight breeze that took me by surprise and made spots of my arms cool. They were warmed immediately when the sun hit them depending on where on the path I was. I stopped for a few moments to take in a spot where very few people stand, nobody is in the water in this spot, it is perfectly still and natural. I could smell the greenery, the foresty smell that you sometimes smell in woods. The smell of the area brought me to places I have not thought about in a long time; camping trips, and rafting down the Delaware River, the Appalachian Trail at the Delaware Water Gap and long walks along the Delaware River. I haven’t thought of these times in a very long time, they were all a lifetime ago when I was young, in love and had my entire life in front of me. My thoughts stayed there until I pulled them back to the present; a feat that was done over and over again.
I leaned against a wooden railroad tie fence and watched the water move with the breeze. I listened to the branches sway and could hear the patter of tiny feet running through the ground cover to my left. The feeling of the wood on my hands reminded me the days we used to play horseshoes at my friend’s house. They had railroad ties to sit or lean on. I hadn’t played horseshoes in forever; I rarely even get to hang out with them anymore. A bit of nostalgia and sadness overcame me, which I again pushed out so that I could take in my surroundings.
As I began to take the walk back toward my car, I realized that this walk really helped me connect a few things. I connected with my physical body through the walk, caring for my ankle, realizing that the workouts of late have strengthened me. I connected with my past, by remembering enjoyable times outdoors with friends and husbands from the past. I felt sadness but not heaviness. The sadness was really replaced by a longing to have some of that back again in my life. Not with the same person, but someone who I could be in the moment with more often, be in nature more often and be me more often.
Thus the walk connected me to me