A walk in the woods

Garden Clippings for Dec 29, 2023

All but a few of us want order in our lives.  The products in the grocery stores are lined up perfectly.  The grid on our city streets is carefully planned.  We cut the grass when it is over 4 inches high.  We rake leaves as soon as they begin to cover the grass.    We clean windows, pay bills, arrange the spice rack, and park our cars in good orderly fashion.

In short, we are neat freaks.  We don’t sleep well unless our minds are clear.

Cheryl tells me that we need order, tidiness and pattern in our lives in order to improve our mental state.  I concur, but the paperwork on my desk is evidence that some of us are okay with a bit of chaos.

Interesting then, that we are most at peace when we are deep in a forest.  Amid trees that are tall, short, crooked and straight.  Where there are rocks and boulders sporadically dropped.  A mumbo jumbo collection of dead leaves, broken branches, moving water, animals, feathers, and weird noises.

At first glance, a forest may appear as if it is a haphazard mix of neglected materials, but we now understand that a forest is an intricate ecosystem where all the elements are in perfect order.

If you can find time and space for a forest hike, you will quickly learn that an hour spent in a forest is good for the mind, heart, and body.  A trek in the forest will burn energy, get the heart rate up and provide escape from deadlines and conflicts.

The forest is a place of discovery and education.  A place where what students learn in biology class comes to life.  In the forest, children experience first-hand the intricacies of nature and gain a renewed respect for biodiversity and sustainability.

Most of us exist in an environment where productivity is the norm and information is constant.  Traffic is a battle and noise is continuous.  A hike in the woods is an escape from everything, provided you leave your device behind.

As time has evolved, sitting has become our default.  We sit on the bus, behind the desk, at the theatre and at the supper table.  Yet, our bodies are built for walking.  The forest gives us the perfect opportunity to stretch, explore, march and rest.

Forest hiking is an exercise that requires no preparation and no special equipment.  It can be done solo or with the family.  If mosquitos bite or if it begins to rain, embrace the inconvenience and plan the next hike.