The smell of grass and leaves. The warmth of the sun. The steam that each breath produces when warm air meets cold with each breath. The burning of lungs and the soreness of muscles. All of these sensations remind me of my childhood.
There was a ravine in our neighborhood that we loved to explore. Sometime there was no water, and sometimes it was a running fast. We’d ride our bikes, mine was a Murray BMX, to the ravine. On the other side was a field. We’d play football or baseball, whatever the season dictated.
No matter the season we’d walk our dog. I remember one walk that was especially cold – below zero – and bundled up and made a real adventure out of the experience. We’d survived the extreme cold!
Metro parks and state parks were special spots. Once we went to beach, but it’s always been the forest and hiking trails that draw me in. A summer cabin in northern Michigan provided row-boat adventures and fishing stories.
There is a peace that comes with sitting quietly, listening to the wind in the leaves and songs of the birds. Hiking a trail creates a similar peace. It’s when I disconnect from the human-made world and integrate with the natural world that I feel most at home.
Yes, being outside, in all the mid-western variations, can trigger a memory from the past. These memories often produce a smile, sometimes laughter, rarely a tear. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy being outside so much as an adult.