Summer walk

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(HOST) Recently, commentator Ruth Page found that a short walk in the woods was refreshing – and ultimately productive.   

(PAGE) It was just a simple, half-hour’s walk in a small but lovely wooded area near my home. It lifted my spirits and let me get to the afternoon’s work I hadn’t wanted to do. I worked for three hours, even though when I got up that Sunday morning I hadn’t felt like doing a thing, and had hated to face the writing and reading chores that lay ahead. I even got started on my most-resented job: rearranging my messy files.
It was a pleasant, sunny day. The woods were cool, a bit breezy, so they could show off the flashing shades of green in sun and shade, and several times I simply stopped and LOOKED.
Infant maples had popped up wherever a splash of sunshine struck down through the canopy. There were some Norway maples, which of course consider reproduction their only aim in life, but also some older sugar maples with their striated bark and handsome leafage.
No artist’s palette can match Nature’s. She offered so many shades of green it made me dizzy. When the breeze blew, leaves I’d been admiring for their deep, dark green suddenly flashed with the brilliance of melted emeralds, gold along their edges, every vein visible in the x-ray vision of the sun.
Leaning against the smooth, silvery bole of a beech, one of the handsomest trees to bless our days, I just stared about me. The tiny Indian pipes that had stood near the path in a small nook at the base of a tree were shriveled and had all but disappeared; the baneberries were gone. At the path’s outer edge, the little deep pink thimbleberries were also giving up; the few that were left had turned hard in dry days. They’re one of my favorite fruits, and they’re often found along Vermont paths to tempt the hiker.

In an open space I could see Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, mostly deep blue in the sunny afternoon, with a pale azure sky above, graced with cloud-castles of cumulus, drifting slowly and interspersed with many Mediterraneans of a deeper blue in gorgeously varied shapes.
When I was a kid I read the Dr. Doolittle books, and I remember his asking the youngster who joined him whether he was a good noticer; did he really see what was going on around him? I have tried ever since to be a good noticer, and I get most of my rewards from what I used to think of as the simple beauties of Nature, but of course they’re not simple at all. They’re a captivating agglomeration of plant and animal life that illustrates the wonderful serendipity of evolution throughout the natural world.

Seeing the wonders makes me thankful to be alive, even with an afternoon’s worth of work ahead of me.

Ruth Page has been following environmental issues for 20 years. She is a long time Vermont resident and currently lives in Shelburne.

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