It’s between seasons for Cleveland Metroparks naturalists. The schools out, camp time, feet in the streams, sun on your face, soak it all in before it’s over, summertime rush, has waned to a whisper. We are just starting spiced cider, cool breeze, find your jeans, watch for peak leaf color, clambake, fall warbler, what time is kick-off, autumn. It’s a time of year when we still have our attention in both seasons but we try to squeeze in desk cleaning, paperwork catch-up, meetings, trainings, next year planning, budget tracking and glue stick counting.
I’m feeling the squeeze. It feels like I’m holding on to summer with my left hand, grabbing fall with my right and balancing too much fussy desk work on top of my head. And, did I hear Christmas carols on the radio this morning? I guess winter is the season I’m trying to hold back with one of my feet extended out. I want to live in the moment, but I’m not even sure what moment I’m in, let alone being able to let go in it.
I need to go outside and stack rocks. I love to balance unlikely pairings of river stones on top of one another; three or four rocks high balancing in the middle of the river. I like to leave them there with no expectation that anyone will or won’t see them and no expectation that they’ll survive another moment of the current. That lets me feel centered and in the moment. You can’t balance interesting rocks on one another when you’re trying to decide which month of the year would be best to remove invasive earthworms from near Look About Lodge. You can’t find the center of balance on a rounded river stone the size of a loaf of bread while you’re e-mailing copies of a report. (Of course the things I’m spending my time on are work tasks and rock stacking is not generally a work task [unless I’m sharing the hobby with others as a part of a program] but admittedly my work tasks have been leaking into my personal time lately).
I’m curious. What do you do in Cleveland Metroparks that helps you live in the moment? Do you spend time in nature as a remedy for the over-stimulus that is the daily grind? Do you ever spend quiet contemplative time in nature? Do you ever just run wildly with your hands above your head and the wind in your face on the trail? When’s the last time you rolled down a grassy hill and watched the world spin?
It’s easy to delay making time for restorative time in nature when so many busy things in our lives call. I hope that I can lead by example and spend some time restoring my focus and ability to live in the moment so that I can do a better job on all the things that are positioning me outstretched, standing on one leg. I want to be strong and agile. And, I doubt I can get there well without finding some balance, literally and figuratively, through spending time outdoors.