The sun is suspended in the clear blue that hangs above. Heat, a stranger now after the chill of winter, has returned once again, creating water droplets on the skin of those enjoying the weather. The thermometer sits at 73 degrees, flipped from just a couple of weeks ago when 37 was almost expected. The only hints that winter was here come in the earthy brown of the bare trees and a brisk breeze caressing the skin. Everywhere people and plants bask in the warmth of spring, and the sounds of life have returned– chipmunks scurrying through the underbrush, birds flitting and twittering about in the bushes, and insects buzzing in the air. Walls are no longer a comfort against the environment, but instead a hindrance to the enjoyment of the outdoors. And outdoors is where I want to be.
The past two days have fit the description above. Warm, breezy, noisy, fresh, spring weather. The lack of bone-chilling cold has allowed me to indulge in long walks and a very muddy, thoroughly enjoyable hike. Both were much-needed after the cold rainy winter we’ve had here in northern Ohio. And extremely relaxing. Sitting in a dorm room because it’s too miserable to go outside makes me anxious and a little depressed. Perhaps a bit claustrophobic, too.
In a previous post, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the Metroparks. But my infatuation includes more than just the local park system. Nature itself has always been a love of mine. It may stem from the men in my life– my father, grandfather, and uncles– who would coax me on fishing and camping trips, bike rides, and hikes. It might have also been influenced by the reading material I picked up when I was younger, titles such as My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I would pretend I was stranded in the woods whenever I played outside, crafting spears from fallen tree branches and finding edible plants (safely, of course– my grandmother is pretty knowledgeable about stuff like that). My dream was to run away one day and test all the skills I had learned from these books and the wilderness survival research I’d done on my own, maybe on a mountain in New York as Sam did in My Side of the Mountain or just in secluded part of the park system. I was obsessed with nature.
Unfortunately, real life has gotten in the way of my excursions into the wilderness. I haven’t been camping in what seems like an eternity, and my hikes are few and far between. Going for long walks helps to curtail my obsession a bit, but even in the parks, there are still unavoidable reminders of civilization. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is literally right down the street. Houses flank both sides of the parkway. And the park seems to be a main thoroughfare for traffic. It’s impossible to find the isolation from nature that I desire when I live in such a town as Berea, Ohio. Maybe one day, I’ll find it again. But for now, I’ll have to settle for Coe Lake and the Metroparks. With views like this, I can’t complain too much.