Location: Route 198, Woodstock, CT
Links: Google Map
Date: Sunday, June 24, 2018
Time: 7:30 am – 10:30 am
Hike Duration: 3 hours, 3 miles
Fitness Stats: 7800 steps; 17 floors
Weather: Overcast. Wet. Low to mid 60’s.
There’s this place that I love to hike to. It’s the perfect spot to sit and observe nature. We’ve done a lot of hiking in this area, on many connecting trails through Woodstock, CT and Southbridge, MA. All along Route 198. This is the same road with one of our “go-to” spots, Forever Wild Preserve.
For me, this hike was definitely more about the sitting than the hiking. For Dennis, it was more about the fishing. I’m so thankful I had the bright idea to get him a telescopic fishing pole last Christmas. It’s easy to carry with us and allows me the opportunity to explore the woods a bit, finding the perfect “sit spot” while he fishes.
I’ve probably said this before, but one of my favorite parts of hiking is the sitting. When you first step into nature, everything seems to stop. There are no animals to be seen. Except for maybe that squirrel yelling at you from the upper tree branches, warning everything else in the area of an intruder. The birds stop singing. The frogs stop croaking. And for a while, things seem still and silent.
When I got to my sit spot today, I heard the yelp of a frog as it leapt into the water. Well, I’m assuming it was a frog. The funny thing is that I’ve heard this same yelp and seen the ripples left behind of something swimming off into the water, in the exact same spot, the last two times we’ve been here. Yet I still just stride into the area with heavy foot steps until I plop my bottom on a boulder.
And then I breathe. Yessssss. If you can sit still for at least 15-20 minutes, nature starts to come back around. I love this practice. It’s a practice of patience and of stillness. In the past, I’ve kept company with a chipmunk sitting next to me on a rock, almost touching my leg. I’ve had a bird land on my shoulder for a moment. I’ve been close (within a couple feet) to a rabbit, a woodchuck, and even a skunk! Okay, that one was scary and I was stuck sitting still in that spot for a while, too afraid to move until it meandered away.
But It. Was. Awesome.
Today, I center into myself, gazing out over the swamp, waiting in the stillness. I am rewarded. The frogs start croaking, echoing and calling to each other across the swamp. The red-winged blackbirds get back to business, flying about from one reed to another.
I watch two tree swallows swooping and soaring, like aerial acrobats as they catch their breakfast. I watch dragonflies darting about. I hear a rustling in the tree above me. Slowly, I gaze upwards to find a bird sitting on a branch directly over my head. (I was thankful to be wearing a ball cap, just in case!)
It’s nice to just sit and allow myself to become a part of nature. I can’t take pictures of all this. The sounds, the smells, the movement of the animals and insects. But I feel the imprint on my being.
I never did get to see what actually made that yelp as it moved into the safety of the water. I was hoping it would eventually return. Next time I’ll have to remember to sneak in quietly.
Happy sitting! 🙂