Learning to Cope: A Walk in the Woods

Bloomington, Indiana // Photo Credit:  Kim Lewis Photography / shutterstock.com

As I head over the hill behind my house, I am thankful for my daily walk. I am always grateful for this time, but as our country faces its current health and economic crisis, I am even more so. I put one foot in front of the other and move on. There is a great deal of comfort in this — the moving on.

A deer dashes across my path. Squirrels scamper up and down the trees. Fields seem alive with rabbits hopping here and there. Birds are singing. Hillsides are covered with daffodils, jonquils and forsythia bushes. Fruit trees are in full bloom. Tiny green buds are appearing. As I take this in, all the noise and all the uncertainty our country is experiencing as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic begins to fade. 

As I take all this in, all the noise and all the uncertainty our country is experiencing as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic begins to fade.

I say a prayer for those who have contracted the virus, for people whose livelihood is threatened, health-care workers, homeless people seeking shelter and officials who are in charge of policies, and then I leave it in God’s hands.

I breathe in the fresh air. Spring has arrived, and although the temperature remains a bit chilly, signs of the season are everywhere. Life is renewing.

I have always been a fan of taking walks, but never have they been so meaningful. I am free to walk — or even run (if it were not for arthritic knees and rough terrain) while maintaining social distancing. I am fortunate to have 20 acres, mostly wooded, to wander about as I please. I am thankful for this and much else.

I walk to my spring and see water gushing over the hillside. I am thankful for the abundance of clear, clean water it provides. I am thankful for people smart enough to get the water from the middle of the woods to my kitchen sink.

I walk on up to the top of the hill to sit for a bit on “The Thinking Rock,” a boulder so named by one of my granddaughters, who went there when she was a little girl and needed to think things through. In the years since, she has grown up and I have borrowed it from her for a place to pray, to figure things out and make decisions and plans, and I am thankful for this quiet place. I am thankful for granddaughters, grandsons and all of my lovely family.

I enjoy being with people, but sometimes I want to walk alone. I like music, but when I walk, I only want the sounds of the outdoors. At a distance I hear children calling to one another. Close by, I hear animals moving through the trees and the rumble of trains passing on the nearby tracks. The rhythmic hum of chainsaws means people are cutting wood not too far away. Sometimes, there is the droning of an airplane overhead. A few vehicles pass by. Signs of life. Today, the airplane sound is missing. There are fewer cars and no school bus. Everything seems quieter.

I wander on down the other side of the wooded hill to the gravel road on which my land lies. I travel the 3-mile circle back toward my house. I am thankful for this peaceful, safe street. I am thankful for the people whose homes I pass.

I spot a young boy walking probably 10 feet in front of me. He looks to be about 8 or 9 years old. And I am glad to see a person. I miss people. He turns around and waves. I wave back.

“Are we more than 6 feet apart?” he shouts.

“Yes, we are,” I assure him in a loud voice.

We smile at each other and continue on. Putting one foot in front of the other.  •

 

Story by Sara Combs

Photo: Bloomington, Indiana // Photo by Kim Lewis Photography / shutterstock.com

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