– Introduction to Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Exercise outdoors is always more fun when you do it with somebody else. That’s why my beloved and I have two single kayaks. And a tandem kayak. And a canoe. We can choose all sorts of ways to paddle together, and with other friends and family!
And paddling isn’t the only way we choose to enjoy the great outdoors together. There’s also the simple, year-round option of walking. We really enjoy walking our street – the Fall and Spring are especially nice for meeting neighbors doing the same. We’ve enjoyed meeting both people and pooches on our rounds! When we want a long walk, though, we’ve found a wonderful place.
There are lots of walking trails, but we’re partial to the Air Line Trail, which is nearby, and tree covered most of the way. It’s one of many unused railroad corridors across the US which have been converted into recreational public trails. Each state funds and supports these trails (through Connecticut DEP Greenways for us.) They are also part of the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. This is a fabulous way to use already cleared paths.
There are different sections of the Air Line Trail that we wander for up to 6 miles at a time, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the forests around us. The character of each walk is affected by the time of day, weather, and season, but a visit to the Trail always leaves us feeling invigorated. We think we know why.
The Japanese call walking in wooded areas Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” There is serious evidence of the therapeutic effects of the practice – it’s been called natural aromatherapy. It’s also peaceful, lovely, and a wonderful way to enjoy the natural world around us.
Often we walk for quite a while without even speaking, just taking in the aromas and views around us. For us, there’s no better way to hit the reset button on a frantic and frazzled week than to step into this quiet wooded world hiding just a few miles away from our home.
As we look forward to our (we hope, increasingly healthy) retirement together, forest bathing will definitely always be a part of our plan.
Try it; you’ll like it.
For more on forest bathing, see these links:
- A Dose of Nature (massageenvy.com)