Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Don't Let Life Pass You By...Create a New Path

I broke my leg last summer.  I didn't think much of it at the time.  I figured I would be back on my feet in no time.  That wasn't exactly the case.  The leg has healed, but I still limp a little and it still feels stiff.  The break was near my ankle, and I think some damage was done there too.  Oh well, that is beyond my control.  One of the hardest parts of my recovery was not being outside as much as I wanted.  

I watched CBS Sunday morning recently and now I realize why I missed being outside.   I heard in one of the segments that this pandemic is causing people to become more impatient.  It said that impatience can cause health problems like higher blood pressure, higher heart rate, and higher cortisol levels.  It is probably true.  Being anxious and stressed all the time can't be healthy.  It went on to say the there is patience in nature and that fifteen minutes a day in nature can lower blood pressure and heart rate.   It can also boost your mood and improve the feeling of well being.  Even back in 1854 Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay called Walden or Life in the Woods.  He lived a simple life at Walden Pond in Massachusetts for two years, two months and two days in natural surroundings.  Apparently the Japanese have something called "forest bathing".  It doesn't mean taking a shower in the woods, but it just means going into the forest.  It means looking around for birds, noticing the fresh smells and slowing down. Forest bathing is nothing more than hiking in slow motion. 

This got me thinking.  Just because life as we know it has come to a screeching halt, we can still keep moving.  We just have to distance ourselves from other humans but not forest critters.  I saw on the news that all the state parks and trails are very crowded.  That somewhat defeats the purpose of social distancing but everyone is looking for healthy activities to make life more interesting.  I started riding the stationary bike, but I still needed to get outside.  We have a wooded area on our property which I realize most people don't have access to.  The problem is that it is very overgrown and getting worse and worse with the spread of the Buckthorn plant.  My husband suggested we have a trail cut through our woods.  He asked our son in law who has a skid loader to blaze a trail for us.  So one day last week, he came with his machine.

One thing about our son in law, he doesn't let any grass grow under his feet.  What takes us a month to get done, he can do in an hour or two.  His dad is much the same.  They are shakers and doers.  Shortly after Bret arrived, his dad Wayne showed up to work too.  Before my husband had breakfast eaten and his warm clothes put on,  they were well on their way.

It was awesome.  They worked their way through the woods closest to our house.  Wayne cleared a path through the over hanging branches and Bret cleared the ground.  We left it up to them to choose the route.  They ended up with a 1/4 mile trail.  Some areas were pretty thick with brush and undergrowth, but they managed.

Now it's our project to clean up the trail and smooth it out.  The day after the trail was cleared we had a huge rain event.  We got at least six inches of rain.  It packed down the trail which was good, but it also exposed some roots and toe kickers.  I have been walking the trail each day.  I go one direction and then turn around and come back.  It's a half mile walk round trip, and I get at least fifteen minutes of forest bathing.

I moved one of the trail cameras to this trail and found out that the deer are using it.  I even got a picture of us enjoying the hike.

This turned out to be a great idea.  I realize how fortunate we are to have this available to us.  Soon the trail will be covered with snow, but we can still use it.  If the snow gets too deep, we will just use snow shoes. We did discover a neighbor on the back side has a deer stand set up.  It looks like he is planning for hunting season.  I am not too happy about that, but there is nothing I can do about it.  I just hope the deer stick to our trail and stay out of the rifle range. 

I know it probably isn't feasible to stay here forever, but as long as we can keep up with basic chores and continue to enjoy the gifts we are given, we will stay.

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