Early Autumn Walk Through the Woods
Autumn is my favorite time of the year and so it came to be on a beautiful early autumn day that I felt the need to get out of the house, step away from my computer, and get out in the fresh air to enjoy some of Mother Nature's amazing seasonal display.
It was the beginning of October, and where I live in the Northeast region of the United States we were just starting to come into the peak of color as the trees began to slowly change from green to red, yellow and orange. I've always loved this incredible display, when the trees come alive again, their leaves dancing on a crisp breeze, briefly lighting up the landscape for all to see before they drift off to begin their long winter's sleep.
Two teenage daughters
If I had any thoughts about taking my walk in the woods alone, I was mistaken, for both my teenage daughters were eager to go also. I was pleasantly surprised.
I'm not really a hiker, I'm more of a nature walker, and this trip to the woods was not going to be a hike into the backwoods. I knew the trails we would be taking, having walked them before. Once part of an old farm the trails were wide, relatively flat, and had fairly even terrain. So our preparation consisted of changing our clothing into jeans and socks with comfortable walking shoes - sneakers in my case, boots for my daughters. Ticks are always a concern where I live so we did spray our lower legs with a repellent (which I find repellent, but necessary). I packed a small backpack with water and granola bars, matches, basic first-aid and cell phone and made sure my husband, who would not be joining us, knew exactly where we would be going.
At the last moment, I remembered to grab my camera.
But got a pleasant surprise
Taking this walk had been a spur of the moment idea, so we did not start out early in the day. Quite the opposite, we began our walk in the afternoon which turned out to make it even more lovely.
Later in the day, as the sun moves lower in the sky, the shadows become longer and the colors seem to become brighter. Not washed out in the harsh midday sun, the leaves on the trees and the ground seem to turn up their color volume and be lit from within. The shadows cast by the trees were long and danced playfully on the ground, making the landscape even more beautiful. I tried to capture it all with my camera.
I hadn't planned it this way, but sometimes good fortune smiles on you in small and unexpected ways.
Time to just be
We walked and talked throughout our trek, and since my daughters had never been to these woods I was the only one familiar with the trails, so I led. But most of the paths were wide enough for us to often times walk side by side by side, which was nice.
I can't recall exactly what we talked about. I don't remember any stunning revelations, or exchanges of philosophical ideas. I do remember that we laughed together. I know I smiled a lot.
Sunshine and fresh air can do wonderful things.
Although it came too soon
We had walked for quite awhile, stopping often to take pictures or climb rocky outcroppings. But all too soon, the shadows told me that we had to turn back, for we would start to lose the light in a short time.
And so we did, with regret, turn around and start back.
Retracing our footsteps, proceeding past the landscapes and landmarks where we had paused on our journey in, we made our way out as the shadows continued to lengthen and the air grew chill with the fading light.
No, we did not get lost. There were no dramatic mishaps. Just like the time I had spent in the woods with my daughters, the walk ended... simply, peacefully.
Although nearly a year has passed since that simple walk in the woods with my daughters, the memory of it stays with me still.
I think about how, in not so many years, my girls will be venturing out into the world each to begin journeys of their own, but I know I'll smile when I remember the tiny journey we took together that day, for a few short hours, just me and my girls.
It is, and always will be, a memory I will treasure.
Come join me...
Listen to a beautiful melody and take the walk with me through this video montage of the photographs taken on that day.
All photos contained in this article are by the author
Great books on hiking and walking with kids
This little autumn walk was taken when my daughters were teens, but its not the first walk in the woods that we've been on together. When they were toddlers I started them out with walks at a small nature preserve and zoo near our home. When they were a little older we once went exploring to find an 18th-century outlaw's secret hideout in the woods near where we live. Starting out small and keeping it simple was always my approach.
It's never too early to start introducing your children to nature and to walking outdoors. You don't have to aspire to backpacking and scaling mountains to enjoy casual hiking. Common sense and a little know-how are all you need to get you on your way and these books are a great introduction for anyone who wants to learn to safely take to the trails with their children. Who knows, you might really find yourself enjoying a simple little walk in the woods like mine very soon.