Finally! Snow! Time to get on my warm boots and take a walk in MY beloved Peninsula State Park. Yes, I take ownership of the park! This park is one of the main reasons I love living in Door County. I often used to hike in the park during the summer and cross country ski during past winters, but, recently, work and life somehow kept me away from these favorite past-times. Then this summer, my son and grand-daughter came visiting, brought their bikes, and we all headed to the park...while they rode their bikes, I took Angel for a walk and fell in love with the park all over again. So when it finally snowed, I knew I had to go back and explore new paths through the woods. The first thing I noticed when I parked the car and started my walk, was the stillness in the air. I stopped and listened. The only sound to be heard was the birds. Woodpeckers' tap.tap.tap echoed throughout the park adding to the chirping songs of the other birds. A jazz festival in the trees.
Although I live closer to the Ephraim entrance, this time I entered on the Fish Creek side, parked the car and followed a path that I had driven by for years. And guess what, I realized I missed so much just driving by. Now, on this walk along frozen marshes filled with cattails, I was able to really SEE the beauty and wonder of what, in a car, seemed like "just a marsh". The cattails were golden against the frozen blue water and the dark bark of the trees was a stark contrast to all the grey and muted tones around me. There was a stillness in the air, a foggy mist over the marsh.
The water seemed to be moving under the ice. Birds flitted throughout the marsh. A hawk swerved above me. It was cold, but there was a softness in the air. I felt so at peace.
I could see a car driving by and thought, "that was me so many times when I entered the park...I just drove by"...and now I was seeing close up the beauty of this fall scene frozen in December's ice. Mother Nature was teaching me a lesson. She said "Stop!", look around, I have so much to show you". I was so happy to NOT be that car, to be walking the snow covered path, enjoying every step of the way in the quiet morning.
As I entered the darkened woods along the path, I caught glimpses of the golden stalks along the shore. I felt like I was alone in the world. As though this golden display was just for me. Oh! The wonder of it all.
The only people I encountered along the path was a family coming out of the woods on cross country skis, the father pulling his child on a sled behind him. I marveled at his strength! We exchanged a friendly hello. It made me happy to see the young family enjoying this misty winter morning.
After a couple of hours, my toes and fingers told me it was time to head back to the warmth of the car. I promised myself that I would be back many times this winter. The park is a place of peace and restoration. A blessing in these stressful times and a reminder of all that is right in our world. Nature doesn't disappoint. And hot chocolate tastes so good after a long winter hike!
Note: Enter the park. Drive along a new road. Park the car. Listen. Walk. Explore. Feel the peace. Enjoy the sound of quiet.