I’m so fortunate. I get to walk a woodland path every morning. I’ve come to rely so much on the relaxation and stress relief that I walk regardless of the weather. Walking in the rain is a sensory miracle. Walking in fog is ethereal. Walking in snow is a quiet, softly soulful experience.
What is it about paths that beckon us to come hither, to explore something new? When you enter the woods, you’re instantly enveloped with the cool, quiet ambience of the forest.
On a hot summer day, the woods beckon you as being cool and shady. The cool darkness is welcome, and the soft air soothes. If the weather is humid or foggy, the moisture envelopes you like a velvet cloak, and makes you slow down and amble.
The scent after a rain is of water dripping off leaves and wetting the soil. When the woods are dry, there’s the scent of honeysuckle or wild rose. Pine groves are filled with the scent of pungent resin.
Then again, on a cool autumn day, sunny glades draw you forward, and the warm sun makes your skin prickle. As the leaves begin to turn, the woods turn into a glorious golden aura and they are filled with the acrid scent of crinkly oak leaves. As the leaves fall, they begin to obscure the paths.
If you traipse the woods daily as I do, you notice nuances on the paths taken. Most of the paths I walk are well-trodden, which is a good thing when I’m wandering in my mind and not paying attention to where I’m going. But a path that is well-trodden means that I don’t have woods to myself.
This is a good thing because it means that many others are enjoying the woods as well. But I’m a bit selfish. I love the time alone, the quiet, and in reality I end up seeing few others.
When we do meet someone, it’s usually someone with a dog, which makes my dog extremely happy. The woods don’t belong to me, and my happiness at having an opportunity for “forest bathing” means I will happily share this lovely place.
To keep you going at this time of luscious tomatoes, don’t forget about Catalan tomato bread – a traditional Italian dish in which you toast slices of robust sourdough or artisan bread, rub with a halved garlic clove and then rub with a cut ripe tomato. It’s the essence of summer.
Another great way to use those tomatoes is to chop with garlic, basil and olive oil. Spread on grilled bread as bruschetta (you can spread the bread with goat cheese first for a deepened flavor), or toss with hot pasta. Simple but infinitely delicious.