I have been thinking about the ideas of wilderness, solitude, and finding beauty in an urban environment. I am sure it is completely coincidental that I am thinking about these things having just spent the day with my two kids who are on holiday from school. The highlight of the day was scones with a buddy and going with friends to a nature trail close to the house. I have decided that this trail is my Walden Pond.
Now, my understanding of Thoreau is that he was a bit of an odd duck. Louisa May Alcott had a crush on him..they ran in the same Transcendentalist crowd...but he would have none of it. He was a lover of nature and getting back to the simple things in life. Still, all the time he was living at his rustic cabin on Walden Pond, he headed over to his mother's house for lunch. She lived within walking distance. This is a plan I can now get behind.
Back in the day, my husband and I left each Friday and headed up for the mountains. We would camp out and then spend the week-end climbing. I didn't actively think about the wilderness, I was in it all the time. In the winter, I did as much back-country skiing as possible. If you haven't skied along the Kancamagus River in New Hampshire, put it on your bucket list.
Then came Luke and Emma. Suddenly, the comfort of home and diapers eclipsed the rough terrain of New Hampshire and Maine. We still climbed, but in an indoor climbing gym. As the kids got older, I took them on short hikes and skiing but at our local downhill spot.
I missed the solitude of the wilderness and the joy of being back country. So, today I had an epiphany. Pick a place and explore the wilderness that is in it. Look at it mindfully throughout the seasons. Explore it with friends. You can experience the emotion of climbing an exposed arete by putting four children on bikes and scooters, and releasing them downhill, all weaving wildly into one other but miraculously not hitting each other. You can view wildlife as you glimpse at what surely is an arctic fox. Hey, this isn't the Arctic and that fox is meowing.
Pick a place. Pick the people you share it with. Write about it. Ponder it. And if you smell lunch wafting over a birch tree, consider yourself blessed.