By Beth Sullivan
Whichever way you choose to look at it, June signals the beginning of the summer season. Memorial Day has passed, the Solstice is still ahead, but the weather remains fickle. We are all ready for summer to get going so we can get out and enjoy it. It has been a long time coming.
|Get up. Get out. Get Healthier.|
One bit of business to take care of first. Starting this month, Avalonia eTrails will be posted on the first and third Mondays of the month, not every week as it has been since we began this journal journey. We started in 2013 and, to date, we have posted 361 entries. Yes, I counted. All the entries are still archived on the Avalonia eTrails website http://avaloniaetrails.blogspot.com/ if you missed any from the beginning. I am so grateful for all of you who have followed and enjoyed these weekly musings. Early on, they filled a space in Avalonia’s social media presence. Now, we have some amazing writers and editors, and there are newsletters, updates, e-blasts, Facebook posts, and Instagram feeds. Communication with our members and friends continues on a greater scale than ever before.
Since I began writing, I have been blessed with two grandchildren, and another is on the way. One of my goals is to spend time with them and keep them well grounded in what I love: Nature. They are off to a great start, and readers have had glimpses of them in some of my photos. I will certainly continue to sneak them in. To cut back writing a little will give me a bit more time to be out and hike and explore myself, too.
Getting out in nature and getting children out to explore has been my primary passion for over three decades. Several years ago we developed Hike and Seek. In the past year, we have had some new volunteers and program development assistance to help move it to the next level. We have sent informational packets to several schools systems locally which will pass on the information to their students and families. Avalonia has so many wonderful properties, and offers opportunities to enjoy, explore and hike, all for free. The Hike and Seek program helps provide parents and kids with the added depth to look deeper and learn more. Check it out on line: avalonialandconservancy.org/hike-and-seek/ . Originally we made sure the targets were things that could be observed all year round, in all seasons. One of my goals for this summer is to get out on preserves and find some new targets, things that may be only seasonally visible, but worth looking for during the prime hiking season.
|Everyone loves a lesson at Moore Woodlands. Photograph by Kent Fuller|
|Stop and Breath. Sometimes your view will be breathtaking. Photograph by Phil Sheffield.|
|Phil and Java enjoying Knox Preserve. Photograph by Nina Sheffield.|
Not just for kids
This brings me to the next challenge. A number of adults have suggested that this Hike and Seek idea is not just for kids. They enjoy having a goal or a focus when they hike and it is an opportunity for adults to learn more too. At the same time, we all know that exercise is good for the heart ( both the physical heart and the spiritual heart) . Hiking in nature need not be strenuous to be beneficial, but a little cardio spurt on a trail never really hurt anyone who is healthy. Building up stamina, balance and some muscle can also be accomplished out on a trail.
One of our newer volunteers, Phil Sheffield, is always out hiking himself and has recognized this. He wants to take this passion that we both share and encourage others to do the same. He has created the Avalonia-Hikes Facebook page www.facebook.com/Avalonia-Hikes, and its purpose is described this way:“Welcome to Avalonia Hikes! This page was created as a way for folks to find like-minded community members who are interested in taking walks on Avalonia's beautiful properties, either scheduled in advance or even last-minute. Want to go for a walk and looking for some company? Hoping to hike a new trail but don't want to go alone for the first time? Try creating a quick post on this page with the suggested date, time and place and perhaps others will be able to join you. Please use this page to set up hikes and walks on Avalonia properties.”
What a great idea to connect with old friends, or make new ones, to get out, explore, get healthy. And, if you use the Hike and Seek program, you might learn a thing or two in the process.
Watch out for poison ivy, use sunscreen if you are not in the woods, bring water if you will be out for a while in the heat, and check yourself for ticks at the end of the hike. Better yet: ask your friend to help do the tick check.
|Poison Ivy can make a fun hike regrettable.|
|Team work helps find these beasts.|
|You never know what beauty may await you around the next bend in the trail.|
Photographs by Beth Sullivan unless otherwise indicated.