A Gentle Green Soak: The April Nature Walk

by Hope Horton

…this experience awakened memories of my childhood…

It was a cloudy, blustery day—a perfect time to step into the shelter of the woods to marvel at what the natural world is offering this Spring.  Margret, Jenny, and I loosely led eighteen (!) people into an intimate experience through  a cozy area nestled between our southern border and the brook connecting the pond with McGowan Creek. 

The path we chose began on higher ground, allowing us to avoid the rain-swamped areas of our better-known trail network.  Very few Hart’s Millers have been this way, and it was a delight to introduce everyone to the charms of this tucked-away spot.

…showing the children how to taste the sweetness of a coral honeysuckle blossom was a highlight…

We stepped from the Hart’s Nest lawn into a woodland carpeted with a filigree of Creeping Cedar.  This plant, a club moss, is among the oldest species on earth – originating around 500 million years ago and memorialized in ancient coal deposits – and its presence seems to bestow a sense of timeless enchantment. 

…it was great to have time to just stop and notice what’s around me…

As we walked along the southern border, it was striking how different the Hart’s Mill forest appeared from our neighbor’s to the south.  We don’t know the full history of this land, but it’s possible that this forest was clear cut, and even farmed, in the not too distant past.  It was certainly planted with pines at some point.  In contrast, the fairly open mixed-hardwood forest next door gave us an idea of what this land may have looked like many years ago—and may appear again some decades hence.

We made our way down a gentle slope, past a rare collection of large boulders—ideal for sitting and gazing, or closing one’s eyes and resting.  The brook at the bottom connects the pond with McGowan Creek and it was bustling, tunefully shifting the overflow towards the wetlands.  The children in the midst had a high time splashing in the water.  It’s a good thing they wore their rubber boots!

It was time to wander and follow our eyes, noses, and feet.  We indulged our senses, gazing at tiny new Tulip Tree leaves, feeling the quiet presence of the trees, scenting the wind, and listening for…well…anything that captured our attention.  People enjoyed this solo time guided by their own druthers. 

…I don’t often sit outside much, and sitting on a rock feeling the breeze and listening to the leaves was so calming…

The whole experience felt peaceful and laced with wonder.*   We headed back to the Nest under a light rainfall to enjoy a cup of hot tea, snacks, and reflect on what we noticed. 

There will be nature experiences every month at Hart’s Mill.  Be sure to check our calendar and catch the next one.  The land is waiting for you.

…it was all so quiet and calming…

*As I was writing this post, this article out of UC Berkeley showed up in my inbox: Why Is Nature So Good for Your Mental Health?  The link is included in case you are curious.





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