It’s been almost a year since we’ve moved back to the northeast, and this is the fourth and last season we’ll experience before our journey leads us to a new place . It’s bittersweet….sigh. As I reflect fondly on our time spent here, one of the highlights is seasonal change. Having lived in areas where seasonal shifts are less obvious and the earth seemingly heats up quickly during the early spring months getting hotter and hotter as summer settles in, I’ve come to appreciate the cooler, more temperate climate in the northern states. These cooler temperatures have allowed for more time spent comfortably in the outdoors no matter what time of day or season of the year, a huge blessing for me as I love spending time outside.
I’ve taken full advantage of the milder weather here, whether hiking or mountain biking on one of the many trails in the area, running or walking in my neighborhood or favorite park, or even jumping on the trampoline with the kids! One of my all time favorite places to spend time outdoors is in the park just across from my neighborhood. I could literally spend hours there taking in all this amazing place has to offer: sounds of the wind rustling through the valley, songs of the birds, occasional wildlife sightings, a sea of clouds amidst a field of blue skies, the memorial and U.S. flag honoring a fallen Soldier and serving as a reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country, the miles of trails connecting our little town and two amazing parks, fields of farmland hosting seasonal crops or local farm animals, and then all of the tiny bird houses along the trails.
Yes, those tiny bird houses, hand painted and strategically placed all along the trail caught the forefront of my attention on this day during this run, as I mindfully opened all of my senses to my entire experience outdoors. I’ve run past them so many times on so many runs, and thought about how beautiful each was, but today I decided to slow down a bit and just enjoy the uniqueness of each of them in that present moment. As I slowed down and looked for all of them along the trail, I realized how many there were and how charming each was in its own light. I have much appreciation for the time it took the artists to design and paint each of them and am grateful they have been made a part of the landscape in my favorite park.
What gems have you found in your local park? Is there something you’ve perhaps noticed as you’ve passed by either on a run or maybe a leisurely walk, but just haven’t taken the time yet to explore it further? This spring, why not venture out to a park, whether local, or maybe a short travel distance from home, and mindfully discover all its treasures? Notice the enrichment felt during and after that mindful encounter.