These days the only alone time I get is a once a week grocery shopping trip. This morning I woke up with an idea that I would go to a nearby county park and spend the afternoon hiking and reading - alone. Now, it's not that I don't enjoy family time or chats with girlfriends, but as an introvert my quiet/alone time tank needs to be filled more often than most. A look at our calendar would tell you that there won't be much time for that in the next few weeks- I knew that in order to weather the busyness with patience and strength I had to grab my opportunity to fill up.
After stopping by Mission 1217 for a frappacino (thank you, Lauren), and a quick pit stop to grab some skeeter spray, I drove out to Deerfield Nature Park.
I started off on what I thought was Wildwood Pathway (2.54 miles), enjoying the scenic route by the river, until I realized that I had walked onto the Boy Scouts of America's camp property. I promptly turned around and re-found the actual Wildwood Pathway. I continued on walking at my own pace- what a joy to not be paced by a 6 year old or having to drag along the 4 year old. I almost forgot about what is actually there to see on the forest floor. My senses were at work taking it all in; a wide variety of fungus (reminder: I need to get a field guide to inform my curiosity), dragonflies zipping about, a few wildflowers that I surprised myself by identifying, two snakes, countless moths and butterflies and about a gazillion hungry Michigan mosquito's out ready to suck my blood.
The trails were nearly empty, a fact that bewildered me due to the weather which could not have been more ideal. It was in the mid 70's with a light breeze and a good cloud cover.
I sauntered around until coming to the end of the trail. I inspected the overnight sites, and then continued towards the covered bridge via the River Loop (1.47 miles). The approach to the bridge was somewhat enchanted thanks to the overabundance of cottonwood. It looked as though a plow had been through the white fluff, pushing it to the outer edges of the trail, accumulating in such a way to make the grass an after thought. I crossed the bridge and descended to the river's edge, finding a seat upon a concrete ledge. I opened the book I had brought and before I could read 3 pages I was covered in ants. Of the red variety. I quickly did the hokey poky and shook them off, gathered my things and crossed the bridge again. I eventually found a seat near a well that flowed to the river. I finished an amusing chapter, giggling out loud often, and then took my time back to the parking lot.
Deerfield is a great afternoon destination, an easy hike we've often taken the kids on (most trails also accommodate strollers well). There are many picnic and outlook spots, even a grill near the covered bridge, if you'd like to carry your things that far. A recreation area is on the northeast side of the park and offers a disc golf course, fishing spots, pavilions and a beach area.
It was wonderful to walk alone with only my thoughts for a few hours admiring the work of the Creator. My soul could use more days like today.