Ah January- first month of the new year, a time of resolutions, intentions, and all things inspirational. And what, I ask you, is more inspirational than a winter wander in the woods? Fresh air, exercise, connection with nature, quality time spent amongst the trees. Trees, quite possibly Earth’s most perfect entity, are what make winter’s chill bearable for birds, beasts, and even humans. Whether it’s food and shelter, or simple beauty, trees encompass the spectrum. Trees are remarkable. Kahlil Gibran once said, “trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky”. Herman Hesse wrote “Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth”. Trees are soul food. They’re essential to the air we breathe, they provide a majestic example of strength and perseverance in the face of adversity; something we continue to collectively face, as well as individually. In these times of adversity and uncertainty, seek solace amongst the trees.
Many feel uncertain about spending time in groups, especially with people unknown to them, even if there’s an interpretive program that piques interest. Being around other people can be exhausting, even if participation is group activities feels fun. Trees enter this conundrum with a solution. The Welsh phrase “dod yn ol at fy nghoed” meaning “to return to a balanced state of mind” literally means “to return to my trees.”
Whitmore Lake Preserve is home to some of the most mature and varied species of trees on county land. From stately oaks to charming sassafras to whimsical witch-hazel, the preserve is filled with an abundance of diversity making it possible for every visitor to find “that one tree” seemingly growing for them. No need to worry if tree ID isn’t your strong suit. As part of an initiative to get people outside into nature, parks naturalists created a virtual tree hike. Using your phone’s camera or QR app, simply scan the QR codes posted at various locations along the trails. A map marking different places along the trail will appear, as well as write ups about each species of tree at each marked location. Each marked spot will be numbered and will correspond with a specific tree. If it’s solitude in nature you’re craving, or broader knowledge without social interaction, or just quality tree time, this is your hike. So, charge those phones, strap on those boots and head to Whitmore Lake Preserve. Return to your trees.