Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Pay Day for The Soul

Getting out of town was tough this month. There were work obstacles. The weather was uncooperative. A truck carrying 40,000 pounds of broccoli got into an accident on Interstate 40 just 20 miles from my exit. The hurdles were many!

But waiting at the end of all that headache (and painfully full bladder on the I-40 "parking lot") was the serenity I so craved. My fourth road trip of 2019 took me to Radnor Lake State Park in Nashville. I chose this spot because of all the beautiful photos I had seen in other people's Facebook posts. I needed to see it for myself.

Finally off the road, I checked into my hotel for the overnight stay, dropped my bag in the room, threw my hair in a ponytail and headed for the park. Radnor Lake is sort of nestled in a residential area. The road to get there winds past massive homes and manicured lawns leading to the west entrance and a cozy visitor's center. The kind lady inside sold me a sticker, tore off a map for guests, and pointed me in the direction of "the prettiest way" to get to the aviary. You know I love the birds!

Off I went.

The first stretch of the cedar chip-covered trail, known as the Spillway Trail, leads straight into the woods where I stopped every few paces just to listen to the familiar chirps of Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmice, and various woodpeckers.

The ground was still damp from overnight rain (the same rain that kept me home in Memphis the night before). The air was thick, helping to muffle any sounds from the road just yards away, sounds that were quickly drowned by the roaring water of Otter Creek the further up the trail I hiked.

The path wound further into the forest past the rushing creek and closer to Radnor Lake. I had walked less than one mile but already the worries of life back home had melted away. It was blissful taking photos of the glassy water, the occasional Cardinal, and the heavy clouds that were still threatening to unload. I was definitely in my element, throwing a smile and "good afternoon" to fellow hikers. I set up my camera to take a selfie. Not even a little embarrassed, I flung my arms out wide!

I followed the advised path to the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary which is up not one but two steep hills. Huffing and puffing, I arrived to check out the Great Horned Owl and Bald Eagles living at the top. The raptors were stunning. The owl winked at me a few times, I winked back (because that's what you do!) and made my way back down to the lake.

At the foot of the steep hills I spotted a trailhead that would take me off the paved path and deep through the woods. Yes, please!

There's no feeling like being surrounded by nature, but able to see people on the paved path below. I wanted to yell, "Hey! Get up here! That path is great, but this is even better... you have no idea what you're missing!" I kept that all to myself though, and embraced the warmth of what felt like a secret. I could see them, but they couldn't see me. The trail in the trees had the ambiance of isolation and peace, but it was also challenging terrain. No pavement. No blazes. Just trodden earth to follow, often muddy and covered in tree roots. I surrendered my shoes to the mess and followed the path as far as it would take me, which was right back to start.

I had covered a lot of ground, so it was time to call it a day. At the hotel I plotted the next day's activities.

Sunday morning found me back at Radnor Lake, and just in time to beat the rush. The sun was finally out and many others had the same idea: spend Easter morning soaking it up in the church of Mother Nature.

My plan was to see a different side of the park, so this time I stuck to the trail that wound around the lake itself. I was never alone on this trek and that was okay. Everyone seemed light on their feet that day in the warmth of the sunshine. The birds were busy, bees bounced between blooms, and the local wildlife was not shy!

Sunday's stroll was not about photography or keeping track of how far I had walked. It was about being in the moment. I stopped at one little deck that offered a scenic view of the lake and took it in. I wandered back through the portion of the wooded area where I first set foot on the trail the day before and found the birds' greetings just as sweet.

And under the canopy of foliage I probably couldn't identify, I was proud. I had done it. I was one-quarter of the way through the year and I had kept my resolution to get out and see more of what's around me. And so much of what's around me is amazing. I had planned and taken this trip by myself, no one to entertain me but me. And I had done it better. Better than I could have done it one year ago, even six months ago. Along with my "see the world" goal this year, I vowed to improve my health. I've been diligent about exercise and eating better (mostly), and I swell with satisfaction when those efforts pay off. And Radnor Lake was a huge pay day for my soul!

No comments:

Post a Comment