It’s April 26, 2020, and today marks the 38th day of self-isolation and the shut-down of nonessential businesses in New York State. I was shocked when I did the math and realized that millions of Americans have been at home for just over 10% of the current year, no wonder we’re going a bit stir crazy.
I was forewarned before moving to Upstate, NY, about the overcast nature of the weather. Although I thought I was mentally prepared for it, the reality is that the cloudy, rainy, dreary days far outnumber the sunny ones. This year has been compounded by the need to stay at home, below-average temperatures, and snowfall as recently as a few days ago.
Yesterday there was finally a break in the weather pattern, and it was a gloriously sunny and mild day. I met up with my friend Rodney, and we went for what I thought was going to be a leisurely stroll around one of the state parks. It turned out to be so much better than that.
Green Lakes is a magnificent park. Even the entrance is strikingly scenic, with its evergreen lined paths to the hiking trails.
The paved path leading into the park met my initial expectation about the nature of the walk, it was a bit hillier than I imagined but still reasonably easy.
As we reached the top of the hill and the first glimpse of the interior of the park and the area my friend wanted to give me a walking tour of, my impressions began to change a little. Instead of a paved path, the first walking path he showed me was covered in a blanket of emerald green grass.
The path was flanked by Reed grass (I think that’s what it is) and trees that are still waiting for weather warm enough to coax them into spring.
We didn’t take this path, but seeing it did alter my expectations a bit – the trails wouldn’t be paved, but I anticipated the walk would be a little more challenging, but very manageable.
Fast forward through the rest of our six-mile ‘walk.’ There were steep hills and gentle inclines, smooth grassy paths, and dirt paths spotted with tree roots emerging through the earth as well as a few rocks scattered here and there.
Our final descent involved a steep hill with a very narrow dirt path that contained more than one spot peppered with small loose rocks.
We stood at the top of the hill, and Rodney said, “Beth, I’m so sorry! I forgot about this hill.”
I responded, “It’s ok, I’m up for the challenge – let’s do it!”
Rodney and Mo (short for Geronimo), his trusted Chocolate Lab, were sure-footed as they began the downward climb. As for me, not so much – I was hesitant at best, but determined to make it.
I could tell I was making Rodney nervous, and he was concerned for my safety because he kept stopping, turning around, and coaching me. “Place your feet a little wider apart on this next part of the trail, oh, and walk to the left. It’s wider, and there are fewer loose rocks.” Through his coaching and a virtual helping hand, I made it safely to the bottom of the hill.
All I can say is I felt accomplished after doing so!
It was a far different walk from my usual stroll around the flat and uninteresting streets of my neighborhood. Instead of listening to my book, I listened to nature and engaged in conversations filled with good-natured banter.
It was also nice to see people outside of the grocery store, albeit in masks and from at least six feet away. It somehow still felt a bit more normal than the past few weeks have seemed.
The walk, or the hike, was life-affirming and a reminder that as we go through our days on this earth, we will experience both easy and challenging times. But when it’s all said and done, if we face those challenging times head-on and accept help along the way, life is truly joyous and rewarding.