Today’s challenge got me outside and into the woods. Although we had abundant sunshine this afternoon, temperatures hovered around 60 degrees and the wind had a chilly nip to it. I had already determined that I was walking today, regardless of the weather. I dressed accordingly, in walking shoes and a warm hoodie.
Saturday – Walk in nature
The Scandinavian tradition of hygge has a strong connection to nature. It encourages bringing nature indoors, in the form of plants, flowers, leaves, twigs, bark and rocks. And it promotes people getting out into nature by way of walks, picnics, sitting under the stars, and camping. Hygge considers activities outside less important than just being outside, and being present, both with oneself and with nature. It is a centering, awareness raising time of connection.
For my walk I chose one of my favorite trails at Wildcat Park, south of Joplin. This path threads through the woods there and parallels Shoal Creek for a bit. Other people were out, with their dogs or their families, enjoying the sunshine. I walked slowly along the trail, alone with my thoughts, smiling at walkers as they passed me or approached me from the other direction. Other than hearing isolated snippets of conversations and an occasional laugh, the woods were quiet and serene today.
There were surprisingly few signs that spring is imminent. Our cold February seems to have delayed flowers and trees. However, a few bushes were dotted with tiny green leaves and early flowers such as spring beauty and henbit were popping up. The river gurgled by, unconcerned with whether spring was early or late. I sat on a large boulder and listened to river’s wisdom.
I brought along a healthy snack to enjoy near the water. The sliced apple, dates and bite sized pieces of celery are great for supporting my adrenal glands and boosting energy. I took advantage of the bright sunlight, tilting my head back to bathe my neck and thyroid with energy as well. Removing my sunglasses but keeping my eyes closed, I sun gazed for several more minutes.
As the path leaves the river and loops back through the woods, I begin to watch for my old friend, Oak Tree. I was drawn to this tree in January of 2014. That day I stood alone in the woods, in deep snow, and rested my hands on Oak Tree for the first time. It was a magical experience, feeling the hum of life under the rough bark. I pause by this tree each time I walk at Wildcat, closing my eyes and touching the trunk.
Today I patiently waited for a group of teens to walk on by, and then I greeted this ancient oak by speaking aloud and placing my right hand on its trunk. The tree is showing its age. Large chunks of bark are missing near its base. And there are actually three trunks that rise from the base of the tree, towering over me. A fourth trunk appears to have broken off long ago.
As I stood there meditatively, eyes closed, hand touching the bark, I felt the steady hum of life. A deep red color appeared on my eyelids. Because of its connection to the base chakra, red signifies root energy. It represents the element of earth, and being grounded. Red, for me, represents survival and basic life needs such as food and water. I smiled. This was a good sign. Oak Tree may be old, but its energy is still strong. I patted the tree lovingly and told it I will see it again soon and admire its new leaves.
What a beautiful walk, embracing the hygge belief of connecting deeply with nature and appreciating the gifts offered to my soul. I left the woods, the river and Oak Tree deeply restored.