by: Macrae Hanke
The meandering walk started on pavement; concrete cookie cutter blocks molded from the ground, poured to match the miles of sidewalk before it. As I continued my departure from man-made civilization, the buildings turned to trees and stadium lights faded from view.
Concrete turned to gravel and gravel to dirt. Step after step I began to see the remnants of meanderers before me; the marks of their shoes left behind. I silently wished to myself that they found the same peace and clear mind that I was seeking on this walk. Did they notice the initials in the tree to my right? Or is this my unique experience, my taste of nature, a little different than the others. I think that nature comes to meet you in the midst of your day as a place of comfort, a reset from everything else that steals your attention.
As the path turned to dirt, I heard the wind more clearly. It whispered through the trees, tickling leaves that survived the winter cold. It came in waves, a crescendo of nature’s chorus with every breath. I heard the crunch of frozen dirt, soil that may have been mud the night before, a product of the heavy rain that had guided me to sleep. I was thankful for the cold, lest I lose a shoe in softer ground. I continued my walk until I could hear the water. After a few more steps, it came into view.
To my right the creek came from campus, to my left it continued on. The trees bent inwards, seeming to reach their bare branches to touch the water. The water moved slowly, encouraging me to stop and take in the moment. I stood at the bend, where the creek changed direction. Where the water chose to follow the path of years before. I wondered how many droplets in the creek before me had made this journey before? How many have called this stream their home, rejoicing in their return after vacationing in the clouds. I stayed for a while, listening to the water run over rocks, the faint smell of manure from the horses nearby carrying through the trees.
I stayed until the sun was lost behind the trees, until its rays were broken up by branches and leaves. My walk back was less meandering, I became occupied again with the things still left to do. I was thankful for my walk and I know the bend in the creek will always be there for me. I hope to return soon.
Macrae Hanke is a senior majoring in journalism and international studies who enjoys spending time in nature. This piece began life as an assignment for a class on nature writing.