The American Way to go for a Walk?

11 Aug 2017 Karina S. Henkel

It was a beautiful evening after work. My friend called me and wanted to meet with me. I said, “Do you know what? We live in this gorgeous area and I spend most of my time either in the office or at home. Why don’t we go for a walk? Do you know, by any chance, of a place where we could come in touch with nature? I am longing to listen to singing birds, rustling trees, and  fresh smelling soil.”

“Oh, yes, of course. I know just the perfect place for you. It’s right beside the river that is located between Topsham and Brunswick. It’s wonderful there. You will love it.”

I was so happy. A walk right beside a river! That was even better than I had hoped for. Up until this moment I hadn’t noticed how much I was craving  nature. I know that is silly. I  have lived in this beautiful state that offers all the nature you could think of. But I was just not using it. During the week, I am busy working and doing some volunteer work, and on the weekends we barely make it to the beach in summer because we are so busy with house projects or family life.

I have friends who hike and bike and camp almost every weekend. They love being active, working out and being  in nature as much as possible. But I am such a city woman. Sitting on my porch is pretty much the closest I get to nature. And usually I don’t mind that at all. It’s enough for me. But that day with my friend I felt different. I wanted pure nature. I didn’t care if we should be attacked by tics or other insects. I brought my bug spray, put my most comfortable shoes on and felt ready for a nice, long encounter with nature.

My friend told me to meet her at a parking lot that was our starting point. I was so excited! There is nothing better than to spend hours with a good friend in Maine’s beautiful outdoors.

She led the way while we started chatting intensively. And then she raised her arm. “Look”, she said, “there is the river! And do you see the path right beside it?” I saw it and the river was beautiful. I recognized it because whenever I am in this area I use the highway that is right beside this river. I was confused. “What do you mean? I don’t see the path. I only see the one path that is right between the highway and the river. Where is the one that we are going to take?”

“Well, that is the one!” My friend was so happy that she could help me to come in touch with nature’s paradise. But I was terribly disappointed. There were only a few feet between the highway and the path. When we walked along that way, there were no singing birds or rustling trees for me to listen to. But I heard all the cars and motorcycles as loudly and clearly as I have never heard them before. Usually when I am  on a highway I shut my windows and turn the music on. But now there was no way for me to ignore the noise. My friend and I were yelling at each other while I was trying to ignore the heavy traffic on my left side and focus on my right side - the beautiful river, surrounded by old, large pine trees. This truly was a sight for sore eyes. But the noise was quite disturbing and surely didn’t help me  connect with nature.

After a one hour walk I had a sore throat from yelling at my friend. When we reached our cars, my longing for nature had vanished. I don’t know where it went, but I was very glad when I sat on the deck in my quiet backyard listening to a chickadee.