A Walk in the Woods, Taking Care of Yourself

Just as we’re starting to get the feel for autumn and it getting dark practically right after lunch, boom, here come the holidays. As much as there is to love about them (or not), we all get busier, and some of us get stress-ier. Today is a reminder that there’s almost nothing a walk in the woods doesn’t make better. A friend of mine says there’s nothing butter and hot sauce won’t make better, but he’s talking about food. At least I think he is.

A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.

Food for the soul is what we’re talking here. I just heard that if you are ’bout to go to pieces, go outside and sit on the ground with your back against a tree, and the energy of the tree will make you better. Okay that sounds woo-woo. But hell it’s free, legal, and does not involve exercise, (apart from getting up off the ground, I grant you), so it qualifies as an option. I will likely be trying it along about next Tuesday.

A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.

What’s more where there are trees, there’s moss. I love moss. It’s a bright green furry scarf draped over a drab old rock or dead branch, spiffing it up. It’s also very handy for holiday decorating. If you don’t live near the woods and want some, here’s a source I know and have used: Jamali Garden in New York, and here’s a new one I will try: Save-on-Crafts.com. Reminds me I need to get moving on holiday decorating and ordering flowers and what not.

A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.

Right now I’m at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires of Massachusetts  to re-charge for a few days. It’s something I do a couple of times a year–here or somewhere else–by myself (meaning no husband or roommate), in or near nature, and occasionally in contemplation. Oh there’s exercise and the usual spa stuff, and great lectures by leading experts. I always learn something. Sometimes I have a friend or sister along-but we pretty much do our own things and meet for dinner and maybe to paint or bead or (please don’t make me) play bingo. But for me–much as I love a party–the respite of solitude is key; I just have to have it now and then. I’ve come not only to respect it but to honor it, not apologize for it, and make sure I do what it takes to have it.

Moss - A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.

Moss – A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.

Did you know lichens – the soft scaly things that grow on stones and trees – are part moss (fungus) and part algae? Do you know any jokes about lichens? Guess what I do. Freda Fungus took a lichen to Alfred Algae, and theirs is the only relationship that’s on the rocks and still a success.

If you need a joke to tell your nerdy 10-year-old in carpool today, you’ve got it. You’re welcome.

A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.

How do you re-energize? De-stress? Different people have different strategies. It all comes under the umbrella of taking care of yourself. Make it a priority over the holidays – call it an early Christmas present – and trust me, it will be a gift to everyone around you. What are you going to do? Let us know.

I’ll be quiet now and let you enjoy the woods. In the words of Yogi Berra, it’s amazing what you can observe by just looking 😉

Moss - A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
Moss - A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
Moss - A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.
A walk in the woods at Canyon Ranch.

This just in… Thursday, Nov. 15… Reader “C McNally” sent this poem, and it is too wonderful not to share. You can also see it in the Comments. Thank you again, C.

Moss

How must it be
to be moss,
that slipcover of rocks?—
imagine,

greening in the dark,
longing for north,
the silence
of birds gone south.

–Bruce Guernsey

37 comments

  1. F….My de-stresser is always pilates although any walk in the woods is a delight…..Oh! and don’t forget the DEEP breathing….OOOMMMMMM!

  2. Wow!!!!
    Love that place!
    Wish I was there with you!!!
    Thanks for sharing the beautiful thoughts and pictures.
    You bring me JOY my friend!!
    HUGS AND KISSES TO YOU!!!
    Have a blessed and happy day!!!

  3. Frances, again – like always – your blog inspires & reminds me to LIVE WELL. You have no idea what a source of inspiration and comfort your blog has been for me over the past year dealing w/ illness & divorce. Enjoy your peace in MA! (& I love that your sister posted immediately!) :)H

    1. Yes Hollye, and you are a great inspiration in the importance of taking care of ourselves. Many of you know Hollye’s blog, but do visit her if you haven’t – and see the post on “Pajama days” in particular. Thanks, dear Hollye as always.

  4. Frances, Beautiful! Echkart said that contemplating nature freed one from the “me” that is the great trouble-maker. Thanks for the thoughtfu reminder of what seems forever relegated to the bottom of the to-do list. Miss you! xo Pete

  5. When I don’t think of trees as “things” and remember that they are creatures, there is a huge shift in me. Part of anxiety for me is feeling isolated and cut off. When I remember that grass on the side of the road, the trees, the birds are all creatures who accompany me and befriend me, my race down the road takes on an entirely different quality.

    Love east coast moss… though the best moss around here is in the trees up from the Alisal Ranch going to Nojoqui Falls.

    Miss you here but glad you’re there.

    Love and blessings….

    1. Thank you Randall, always, for your thoughts so beautifully and soulfully expressed. We do forget that everything on this earth has a vibration because it has energy by virtue of the atoms that make up every single animal, plant and object. Miss you all too, and the Spanish moss at Alisal.

  6. Also found this from a friend of mine who is a monk at our monastery in Cambridge, Mass:

    We have no dearth of temples. In a sense, whenever and wherever we seek him we are in his temple. We may very well indeed dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives: we need only be seeking him.

    -Br. Mark Brown

  7. That’s just the joke I needed for my 3:40 shuttle of 7th graders! Before that, you can find me with my back up against a tree. : )

    1. Good to know Mimi! And if you’re going to be down with that tree for a while, please find something soft and warm to sit on. xox F

  8. Frances, I absolutely agree with your sentiments and your photos are beautiful! I am also happy to know that someone else loves moss as much as I…..can never have too much, indoors or outdoors!!!

  9. Frances,

    I wish I could transplant myself from the cement jungle to the woods, it sounds like the perfect way to de- stress and connect with your soul. Enjoy xxx

    1. Thank you, dear Viva, and you can get excellent results with Central Park, one of the finest walks in the woods there is, and steps from Bergdorf Goodman. Love, Frances

  10. Dear Frances, heather is indeed taking care of herself – and encouraging all of us to do so as well. Sisters are the best, arent they? Heather’s twin, Heidi

  11. This post has made me think of my dear, and long dead Uncle Tim, who taught me from a very young age that nature can and will always ease emotional turmoil, loneliness and pain of any kind. He said many times that a walk in the woods was his elixir of life. It also brought to mind his favorite poem “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant. Thank you Frances, for your post, it was truly beautiful and personally poignant for me.

  12. Beautiful photos, Frances. Once more you have inspired my creativity. Tomorrow I plan to go for a “walk in the woods”, however I will “walk the walk” at my kitchen table where it is always warm and sunny and the coffee is hot.

  13. OH, how true, my friend. What a beautiful post you have shared with all. Thank you, and enjoy your journey there. xxoo

  14. Just wanted to share a favorite poem…
    Moss
    BY BRUCE GUERNSEY
    How must it be
    to be moss,
    that slipcover of rocks?—
    imagine,

    greening in the dark,
    longing for north,
    the silence
    of birds gone south.

  15. Frances, Your posts help me relax and visualize what is important – friends, family, art, nature, celebrations, quiet time, food. I live in Brookhaven, a new city in Atlanta, where construction never ends, leaf blowers and yard gear never silence, and folks are in a frenzy to go go go. Reading about your travels, decorating and artsy ideas leads me on new pathways and makes me smile! Thank you!

    1. Donna, this is so lovely and you have absolutely made my day by inspiring ME. Thank you, thank you. I have to say one thing I do not miss in NYC is leaf blowers. the city is so noisy that it all sort of blends together and you block it out. I never could figure out how to block out a leaf blower… blessings, Frances

  16. Moss…where my soul connects to the earth. The magic of scale at work; crouch down and you are hiking through rolling dairy fields in March. I think I spotted some Fairy fingers and British Soldiers in your lovely photos.

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