I call it wandering. Wandering is an art that is always practiced outdoors. It is walking, yet not in the way most people think about walking. When I wander, I have no plan, no exact destination and most times no defined objective to my journey. When I leave for Presque Isle or maybe Erie Bluffs or Asbury Woods, I have no idea of what I am looking for and how long it might take for me to find whatever it is.
To me wandering is exploring new and old places with the goal of seeing nature and the environment in the way it should be experienced in the raw and natural. It is a matter of going into a natural adventure to pay close attention to what I see, feel, hear, touch and smell. The idea is to use all my senses. I might use the toe of my boot to turn over a rock or small log at the edge of the lagoons or a small stream and see what might be hiding. For example, yesterday I wandered on Presque Isle looking for places to photograph for a new feature I will be starting here on the blog.
The new feature will be a picture of a place on Presque Isle and asking you to comment where you THINK the place might be. Some places will be easy, and I guarantee some will stomp most of you.
Nearly all my friends that just wander really think they are actually hiking or walking. Many are not. I can always prove them wrong by having them show me the contents of their pockets. I will find rocks, seeds, buds and other strange things that pure walkers would never have in their pockets. Another dead giveaway of a wanderer is that when you ask him or her their hand span, they can tell you exactly what it is. Mine is exactly 9 inches. Why would this be important? That is how most of us that wander measure things in the field. I have one friend who has the ideal hand span of 12 inches. Life is easy for him.
While wandering yesterday, I tried a trick that was suggested by a former assistant manager of Presque Isle, He suggested it to me when I saw him at a meeting in State College earlier in the week. He said to try something an old codger at his State Park does all the time to “test the waters” for fish. He said simply to spit into a calm pool a couple of times and sees if any fish rise to check it out. Well, it works. I tried it in the lagoons and a very large Northern Pike came up to take a look. Fish are curious, and many times will check the strangest things.
What I have learned from wandering is that it is important that when you do it you have nothing you really planned. For example, I was just quietly standing on the Gull Point Trail yesterday when I heard a bird’s cry that to me sounded like a heron, so I slowly began to work my way toward it. As I walked, I saw a whole group of fresh coyote tracks. Off I went in the general direction the tracks were taking. About ten minutes later, I ran into an area where the Phragmites had been recently cut down by the park maintenance staff. This was great; I took about a dozen photographs of the freshly cut areas so that I could follow what would happen over the summer in those particular areas. It going to be interesting to see how quickly this invasive is going to try to make a comeback.
Oops, what happened to that heron? See why I call what I am doing wandering. As I said, you have no goals, no destinations and guess what; you will enjoy your walks more, get great exercise and see more of the park and its sights. It does cause you to slow down and see why you come to the park. One of the strange things about wandering is that my walks are longer in distance and time then my normal walks. I will talk more about wandering in a future blog, but until then give it a try.
NOW TO THE NEW FEATURE – - TELL ME WHERE I AM ON THE PARK
The place I am walking this morning is easy to reach. Deer, coyotes and turkeys all roam the area. So if you go there, do it quietly. I love it early in the morning or just before sundown. The area seems to be a magnet for morning fog and mist, so photographs here can have a wonderful mystic look to them. A year ago a hawk chased me down the trail because I must have been close to his nest. He was a big and aggressive fellow.
This trail is a year-round delight. Winter walks here are almost as nice as a summer’s stroll. This area of the park is rich in Presque Isle history. If you think you might know where I am, send me a comment and venture your guess.
I’ll let you know on my next blog exactly “Where I am,” Until then,
. Until then,
See you on the park!!
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