Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
The crisp fall breeze swirls through the trees, and with each gust an increasing number of leaves detach themselves from the tree where they once lived. Upon reaching the ground the leaves form a colorful mosaic of reds, oranges, and yellows, almost as if they were meant to be placed that way. With each step their presence is apparent as they crinkle softly beneath my feet, making it difficult to hear anything else. Nature’s sounds are masked by the regular chatter of leaves as I amble through the woods.
I pause for a moment and rest my weight on a young maple tree, enjoying what nature has to offer, taking a moment to listen and observe. Almost instantly I notice the rustling of leaves; directly to my right a squirrel is bounding between trees (making a seemingly impossible amount of noise for its size) before it retreats again to the safety of the nearest oak. I hear birds chirping in the distance, the soft soothing whistle of chickadees, a species which resides in Maine throughout the winter. Photoperiodism has caused migratory birds to begin flying South but our residential species remain faithfully with us preparing for the inevitably cold and snowy winter. I observe as a group of chickadees glide into the trees that surround me, singing their songs, acting almost as if they were children darting from one place to another. Then, just as quickly as they had arrived, they are gone, soaring through the forest.
I continue walking, walking for no other purpose than to be absorbed by nature. I do not know where I am going but I am not lost, I only hope to find a place where I can take in nature as God intended it to be, untouched by human interference and completely uninfluenced by the machinated world.
Some of the fondest memories I have of my childhood revolve around my outdoor experiences with my father who showed me what nature had to offer at a young age. Nature was one thing that we could always share in our free time. I have been fortunate enough to witness many things in the wilderness that you don’t get to experience in the city or in day to day life. I have seen animals that most people don’t get to see in their lifetime, such as fisher or pine marten, animals that many people don’t even know exist. These experiences have defined me and are the reasons that I enjoy the outdoors to this day, the reasons I keep going back for more.
I rest again alongside a stream, the sound of trickling water comforts me as I take in my surroundings. Leaf after leaf gets pulled down stream by the slow but steady current. Again I hear the rustling of leaves and I chuckle to myself as a porcupine walks clumsily up to the stream, its short legs providing a comical aside as it walks. Then, just like the chickadees, the porcupine takes a quick drink and is gone with little evidence of it ever having been there, just as there was little evidence that I had been there to witness it. That is why I enjoy the outdoors, because no matter how simple or seemingly ordinary my experience is, it is completely unique. Each experience is one of a kind and can’t be replicated. When I get to spend time outdoors, I see something that nobody else will ever see, making every trip into the woods a story waiting to be written, a story about autumn in the Maine woods, a story I am completely content with reading.