A Walk in the Woods

Posted on March 25, 2015

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5077660By Sarah Barnes

Some days I crave the company of the forest. When surrounded by trees, the air feels different, inexplicably lighter and heavier at the same time. There is a perpetual feeling of anticipation, like some majestic event is on the precipice of its delivery into the realm of reality; as if at any second a stick will snap and your life will change forever. There’s something inarguably sacred about a stand of trees.

I’ve always held an appreciation for the forest close, in the softest part of my heart. I’ll never forget the tree-climbing child I was, my feet perpetually calloused by the tough bark of the Bradford pear I so loved to explore. Trees were my favorite secret hiding spot. Amongst the green leaves and a little higher in the air, the threads of reality seemed to thin, if only for a fleeting moment. Within the safety of the branches, the air felt a little easier to breathe.

2206844These days I find solace on the muddy trails of Overton Park’s old growth forest. Out in the presence of those silent giants, my mind allows itself to untangle, a welcome respite from the taxing preoccupation with the comings and goings of daily life. As I walk next to the trees, I make a conscious effort to train my eyes toward the clouds, something that, for me, is difficult to do. I spend so much of my time looking down, at my phone, computer, or trying not to trip on the ground in front of me. I’ve invariably deprived my eyes of countless ocular confections. In an attempt to correct this devastating habit, I guide my attention skyward. Through a foggy cloud of breath, I glimpse the treeless branches coming together to resemble a gate guarding against the blue gray winter sky. I take a deep breath and let rigidity escape my frame. This is beautiful. I make my foray further into the tree’s domain, thoughts blossoming in my mind like buds in a spring garden. How old are these trees? What must this city have looked like when they were saplings? I let my questions flow as I walk through a fallen giant, a tree that rests on the forest floor. At one point, its demise blocked the path, but today there is a slice removed from it, allowing the tree to become a part of the trail. For me, this inclusion is endlessly quaint. I make a resolution to visit Overton Park with more frequency, a promise I dearly need to keep. Time spent in nature is beyond value.
Today my feet are not as calloused. I don’t climb trees anymore. As my stack of years on earth has grown larger, I’ve made the switch from tree conqueror to appreciative observer. While the weight of age and complacency has pushed me from branch to brush, I don’t mind all that much. When in Overton Park, the nature affords me a dose of stress relief. My senses are allowed to stretch over all I survey; it is they who do the climbing today. But maybe, if I’m courageous enough, someday soon it will be the both of us.

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Posted in: Lifestyle