Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Change of Seasons on the Trails

This is not a small pond, but in fact a trail I had to navigate across this morning at Douglas State Forrest.

Why do I run? Some of you may be wondering that and I can't say that I blame you as for many, running is not their cup of tea as its associated with pain, boredom and more pain and I can totally see why some would feel that way so allow me to explain it in my own words through pictures.

The woods are my refuge, the place I go for peace of mind after a long week of work where I am bombarded with deadlines, requests and projects. I run to them on weekends the same way I run to my birds who are still in winter mode and harder to come by, so I have learned to compensate and still get my nature fix by counting miles instead of birds.
I suppose I could hike them, but I want to see all, and being rather short, it takes me longer to get there then others so I have learned to compensate by picking up my pace and running through them as I pass by hikers, cross country skiers and others who look at me startled at fist as running is not the norm in these necks of the woods, but we always smile and wave to each other as we pass on by.
Small body of water near a river at Douglas State Forrest

I run these trails as it awakens every one of my senses. My eyes scan all around as I take in the natural beauty, my ears are alert to listen for birds, running water nearby and other songs that can only be heard in the woods. I can smell the earth starting to thaw as I make my way through earth that is slowly starting to soften. The hints of green are starting to appear as well as the vivid colors of last autumn that have been buried by shades of gray and white. I run through all of this with joy in my step as I start thinking of May and all of the warblers, vireos and my beloved Veery that will soon make their way back to their summertime residence and I will be there to greet them.
I stop for a couple of minutes for a drink of water and chart my next course by looking at the trail map. A sense of adventure and anticipation creeps up as I hear running water nearby and run toward it for further investigation.
Small trickles of water from a nearby brook take over the trails as I run through them, splashing through puddles just as I did in my youth and all of the burdens of adult hood like bills, work and family demands disappear as I finally feel free.
The trail has thin layers of ice that cause me to stop as I crouch down low to really look at the magnificent ice crystals. Each of of them a unique work of art. I carefully walk past them, making sure I don't crush their beauty as I make my way further up the trail.
I cross a charming little foot bridge that is very slick with ice. I stand in the middle of it paralyzed at first as I can feel my feet staring to lose control somewhat, but fast thinking takes over as I angle my feet in such a way that walking this narrow bridge is a breeze and for that one brief moment a nice feeling of accomplishment takes over as I take out my camera for a picture and a memory.
My endorphins are in high gear now and my eyes sharp as everywhere I go, I see beauty so I stop often for pictures like the moss covered with frost above.
And a puddle in the middle of the Midstate Trail takes on a new life with the decaying leaves from last season laying heavily below as reflection of trees create an illusion that is so lovely I stop and look at it for a while as I drink more water.
The birds are few to come by, but except for the distant call of a Common Raven, I would only hear the regulars like the White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees and dozens of Golden-crowned Kinglets like the one above.
Snow crystals on branches were everywhere too as the temperatures were not yet warm enough to end their magnificent display.
You know it's amazing how different the world can look in 24 hours. I did some trail running yesterday morning at Broad Meadow Brook and this is the world that awaited me. A wonderful winter wonderland that was so stunning it was hard for me to focus on my running to make sure I didn't trip or anything like that. Every corner I turned, there would be more of this. There was not a sound to be heard except the sound of my footsteps and tiny, wet snowflakes that continued to fall from the sky and hit the branches and leaves.
The wonderful sound of water drew me toward Broad Meadow Brook as well as a Red-bellied Woodpecker who was on the very top of a tree making its call. A great way to start the day, and bid a final farewell to winter (hey I can dream can't I!).

So this is why I run. There is so much to see out there and such little time, that I take advantage of it. When I am in these woods, I have a total sense of freedom as the outside world is far away and I am living in the moment. The woods are my refuge.

Take care all


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Peace and tranquility seem to be you partners on the run.This must be a wonderful way to get away from it all.Now if only I had that kind of discipline.

Rich said...


You are pretty amazing. Great Post!


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