Go, walk in the quiet woods. Hold you lover’s hand, or slip among the trees by yourself. Put on your yoga pants and go with your best friend. Take a child you love, and maybe another who needs to be loved, and teach them to marvel at the wonder of pine scented air and a hush that wraps around tree trunks and tickles their spines.
Wear ripped jeans and old sneakers. Or Under Armor and LL Bean. The trees won’t know the difference. Just get out and go. Tired bones? Busy day? Not an “outdoors person?” Hate the bugs? Got a show to watch? Go anyway. Breathe deeply.
Earlier this week husband and I took our girls to Jamie’s Pond Wildlife Management Area, an 840-acre property that is publicly owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. There is no entry fee, and the public is welcome to boat, fish, hike, bird watch and more. We “discovered” this tranquil hideaway at least five years ago and we go there perhaps a dozen times each year. We select hiking locations and times strategically, as we much prefer peace and privacy. We found that there this week, with no company on the trails expect birds singing from above and deer flies darting in from all sides. I dragged my camera along, hoping to spot the owl that I’d heard on our last visit, but no luck.
Today husband and I slipped away from our girls (we told them we had to work and that their best friend would come at noon as usual) and then we zipped to husband’s favorite haunt from the time in our lives when we lived south of the Gardiner toll booth. Bradbury State Park in Pownal, Maine is only an hour from where we live now, though it used to be ten minutes away from a condo that we called home in Freeport. An admission fee of $4 per adult (Maine resident price) gives you access to hiking and biking trails, horseback riding trails, camping and scenic overlooks. Bradbury, one of Maine’s five original state parks, offers over 730-acres to explore. Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry manages the park (and quite nicely, I might say, as the staff has always been friendly and helpful and the park is well-maintained.)
We took the boundary trail and reveled in the silence. Sure, there was occasional bird song, and even still more occasional child-song, but mostly it was just us, and the trees. Tall, tall trees stretching up the side of a 500 foot (smallish) mountain shaped by a glacier in the last ice age. All of the steep cliffs and bluffs on Bradbury face southeast, the direction the glacier moved on its way toward the Gulf of Maine. Today’s cooler temperatures kept most of the biting insects away, and for that we were thankful. I ignore the deer flies for as long as I can but eventually start swatting at my head and the air in a futile effort to kill my tormentors. At best I manage to tangle them into my hair, while my husband dispatches deer flies using a technique that is part ninja, part ballerina, and entirely successful.
Check out Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands website for more information on all of the ways that you can get outside and enjoy Maine: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/