A Walk in the Woods

Nancy Bryans

It is my custom to walk several miles outdoors every day, preferably in the early morning

when the new day awakens. I need fresh air to stimulate my mind and energize my spirit.

Sometimes my usual path around my neighborhood takes a different direction, this time through

the woods. The aroma and beauty of woodlands sooths and calms, allowing me to focus on life

without interruptions from greeting friendly neighbors and patting adorable dogs.

As I cleared the last residential street, turning past a small pond, I viewed the expanse of

hardwoods and firs lifting their limbs to touch the brightening blue sky. It was late summer and

the trees were still lush green, sparkling with dew in the early morning light. Their reflection in

the pond mirrored their grandeur as they seemed to beacon me forward. The sun began to warm

my face. As I stepped into the woods, a cool breeze kissed my cheeks and the fragrance of the

pines, fir and spruce trees delighted my nose. Deciduous trees seemed to whisper “Quiet” as if I

were entering a library. This is the mood I wished to capture to begin my time alone with my


There is something special, almost magical, about an early morning walk in the woods.

The sounds of the busy day have yet to drown the silence of the woodlands. The rising sun filters

through the trees, spotlighting saplings, ferns and grasses or the occasional wildflower. As the

dawn turns to daylight, I can see more detail of each leaf, needle and plant. A Great Horned Owl

resting on a limb turns its head in greeting, squirrels scamper up and down tree trunks, and birds

sing songs from their camouflaged hiding places in the forest canopy.

The gurgle of a small stream caught my attention, and I paused to see the ripples of water

flow to some distant destination, where I had no idea. The slight splashing of water against

nature’s detritus could lull me into a trance but not today. My walk needed to be non-stop, quick

paced, purposeful, yet not too fast to miss enjoyment of nature’s bountiful display of sights and

sounds. I was drawn off a well-worn path others trod before me. A rustling of leaves caught my

attention, then I spotted the cause. I had never seen this critter in the wild. It took me a few

minutes to determine what it was—an opossum! My movement forward caused it to gaze at me

with curiosity, or possibly alarm. After a good look at me, the opossum moved along a bent tree

trunk, around the tree, and it peeked at me from its partly hidden pose. It became a game—which

of us would move first. I continued my walk, wondering if the opossum would be there to greet

me on my return, but it wasn’t.

As I quickened my step venturing deeper into the forest, I began to see how this walk in

the woods was a metaphor for my journey through life. I was reminded of my chosen course, in

need of constant guarding against its meandering along without a purpose. Today I experienced

not only exercise, but appreciation of nature and the incredible blessings of life.