Year in, year out, I walk at this lake. Round and round, an endless circle of seasons and life changes. The path may seem to cover the same territory, but every walk brings its own unique views and its own visual treasures. This lake is always the same, yet always new. It is the place of comfort when life feels overwhelming, a place to pace out my joys, and a place to meet others in the fellowship of the trail.
The turtles emerge from the muddy depths to sun on logs. Blue heron cautiously stalks the prey that swims beneath the green, green duckweed. Deer browse in the bushes and drink at the shoreline. Squirrels dig for nuts buried beneath the bark overlaid on the trail. Canada geese cry as they fly overhead. The honeysuckle weaves its scent on the bank in the late spring. Tender wildflowers appear as winter ends, and autumn leaves paint the landscape in shades of russet and gold. The water rushes over the dam and down the creek bed after the rains. The spring peepers sing their brief song of fleeting joy. The trees begin the spring with a soft gold green mist, then become the brightest crayon green, then deepen into dark forest green as the summer wears on. Then the edges begin to fray as August passes into September, and by October and November the leaves turn to golden fire, then brown ash, and then back into naked branches shivering against a cloudy grey sky. Every day is a good day at the lake, and every season speaks to my soul.
Though there are many beautiful places to walk in the Nashville area, this one lake calls to me over and over. Before I even moved to town, a friend shared the beauty of this lake, his own sacred place of renewal. And when I moved to town twenty years ago, the lake become the center of my natural universe, the place that called me at the end of a day of writing. I would drive across town and plan my day around a walk at the lake, whether it was a snatched twenty minutes before the winter sun set or a long leisurely summer tramp around the entire lake. It has been healing and nourishment to body and soul. I have met friends and cultivated relationships there, but even more, I have washed my own spirit clean in nature's healing bounty so that I was able to live with myself once again.
Though I love spring and fall the best here in Middle Tennessee, the summer green woods offers its own pleasures. I go prepared for bugs and sweat, and plan to look for subtle beauties that I often miss in more exciting seasons. The long slow summer days remind me that life takes time to ripen. I have lately shot photos of water, taking pleasure in the abstract patterns that reflect trees and sky, and provide an ever evolving background to animals or flowers I see on my walks. I have been learning that the color of creeks and lake reflections can be a palette that pleases the eye as much as the more vivid colors of spring flowers or autumn foliage, if one has the eyes to see. I learn again to allow the slow magic of summer to work its way into my soul.
If you are feeling tired and jaded, or trapped in the seemingly endless circle of your own futile thoughts, I suggest that a walk at lake or shore, an immersion in woods and wildness, is the most invigorating way to renew your faith in life. I love books, and the best are very wise, but sometimes the only wisdom I am able to receive comes from nature itself. May this little meditation inspire you to take a walk at a lake, a seashore, or other wild place. I know you will come back with renewed spirits and a fresh perspective.
Now that I have so many wonderful tools available on my new website, I am delighted to discover ways to share a little more of my life with you through a blog that can look more like a photo essay. I love to take photos and have taught myself to see and experience life in new ways because of my digital camera. Now I'll be able to share more of that visual magic with you. The photos in this essay were all taken at Radnor Lake. And of course, as always, I'll share quotes and ideas and resources to inspire and remind you that you are rich in the things that really count.