The rustling of fallen leaves, the sound of gravel beneath my feet. Ohhhh how I’ve longed for this the last few months. A girl in the woods is a happy one. How I’ve needed this day 🙂
That was my Facebook status today. I haven’t been in the woods, oh I don’t know, it feels like forever. Each time I drive past the Wildlife Refuge in my town, its been closed. Very disappointing to say the least. I’ve needed some solitude, some fresh air in my lungs, a gaze at the river, the barren trees, and the random wildlife crossing my path. I’ve longed for it, my soul needed it. It could not have come at a better or more needed time.
But to my dismay, moments after hitting the gravel pathway, I happened upon the trail head sign. And my hopes were slashed just as quickly as they peaked.
Yes, the trail I’ve found myself on many times since April 2014, will be closed beginning tomorrow, and will last hopefully ONLY until the end of this April. That my dear friends, is way too long in my mental outlook. Sure the other trail will be open, but the other trail, to me, is not as serene or inviting. In my humble opinion, The White Oak Trail offers views of the river, beautiful lush woodland areas, more wildlife, and I can go on with its praises.
Thanks to the Southern Pine Beetle infestation, which has been a nuisance among many of the trails out here on Long Island, and I’m sure other woodland areas as well, my beloved path will yet again be closed off to public access.
Southern Pine Beetle (photo courtesy of NYSDEC)
The Southern Pine Beetle is a bark beetle that infests pine trees. Small in measure at only 2-4 mm in length (about the size of a grain of rice) red-brown to black in color, it has always been the most destructive pest of southern pine forests. This is a major concern for this part of Long Island, we are home to the Long Island Pine Barrens Region, which occupies 102,500 acres.
One tiny little pest, that can take down a complete species of trees, all while being unnoticed for possibly years, it’s kind of unfathomable. At least to me. So here I stood looking at the sign, feeling all sorts of angst and depression was starting to set in again.
Southern Pine Beetle. Image courtesy of the USDA Forest Service.
I’ve longed for the days to get back out on the trail, I’ve needed it. I’m putting it mildly, but I really need to be out there among the trees, taking in the fresh air. My anger towards a beetle, small like a grain of rice. Then I thought, this isn’t about me it’s really about life in its complicated state. Circle of life came to mind in an instant. How it’s all cyclical. Chain reaction. Survival of the fittest. Whatever you would like to call it.
The threat is real, it’s larger than me not being able to get outside and take a hike along the trail I love. It’s the possible destruction of thousands of acres of trees. Trees which feed our souls, give us oxygen, teach us (me) how to live. Without open space, that is protected, we truly lose our connection to the earth.
I’m not about to get all preachy on you, but seriously we need to become one with nature, otherwise we can never truly understand its limited resources. Yes I say limited. We as a society suck the ever-loving life out of all our resources, I’m included in that, I won’t lie. But at some point we need to realize that there has to be some type of give back. If not, we will eventually become that concrete jungle.
Back to my much-needed escape today. I did happen to get in some quality Me time out on the trail, before having to do daily life thingies. And it was as if, the moment I hit that gravel, I had such a release of pent-up angst, winter depression, bottled up emotions, and just a complete sense of freedom. Yes that’s right. All from a few minutes out in the woods.
This photo is of the same area that is in my header up on this blog. What a difference a few months and another season makes. The leaves are still there, and there is limited snow remaining THANK GOODNESS, but yet it still has this serene look to it for me.
As I took my walk, I came across these two lovelies. The first picture is the first one I came across, I think it’s a she so…she was all huddled near the tree base, and a few feet away, her protector (he just kept arching his neck looking around to check out the area and who was around) They didn’t flinch when I was getting closer, but as I walked closer to them, he made sure to get as close to her as possible. Then they eventually waddled away along the path together. It was very cute, I’m always so intrigued by the interactions with the wildlife. Either among themselves, or even with people around them.
A little further along the path but not far away, I noticed in the still leaf and snow-covered ground, the signs of spring popping out of the fertile soil. Not exactly sure what these bulbs are, but they were a little pop of color among the brown leaves, white snow, and grey ground. I couldn’t help but snap a photo.
And a walk among the trees would not be complete without a selfie! Yes as much as I hate them, I couldn’t resist taking a few dozen. I settled on this one. And ironically enough, my contemplation of why I hate selfies so much gave me an idea.
I really dislike selfies, for many reasons. But to get over that dislike, I plan on doing a selfie a day for at least a month beginning today. If I like the photo or not, I need to document one picture per day. Catalog it. See how I’ve physically changed over the course of time. For what reason, none particularly, but just to get over the idea of self-doubt maybe. I’ve always disliked myself in photos, not that I want to change anything about myself, I am who I am and I love myself for that. Again something I’ve learned among the trees. I just think it might be an interesting journey to document. We shall see what happens.
As for my trail walking, the other trail at the preserve is available, and although I don’t find it as peaceful, maybe I need to discover it all over again. There are many wonderful parts to that side of the preserve, completely distinct from the one which will be closed down. There are also other fantastic resources for trail walking/hiking within Long Island. It’s just a matter of finding them, rediscovering ones I’ve stopped going to, and just enjoying the time outdoors.