macleay park

Forest Wonderland

It’s all too easy to hunker down this time of year—simply curl up under a cheap blanket, with a good book and some furry friends.

Working out becomes a lot harder in the colder months. You have to shrug off the incessant darkness, squeeze your Christmas cookie ass into your workout clothes, and muster up some excitement to get moving.

This is a good time to make the effort. Because if anything is going to uplift you during the winter, it’s exercise.

Diversifying your routine and keeping an open mind are important. The same thing that worked for you in the summer won’t work for you now, because your body changes with the seasons.

I’ve switched to morning Yoga during the week to maintain my practice, because getting off work to greet a pitch black world was sucking the life out of me. No, I don’t bounce out of bed ready to seize the day. But after a few minutes on my mat, I’m happy to be there.

Also important is not to disconnect from nature. Rather than writing off Mother Nature, this is a lovely time to embrace her ill-tempered ways. I’m not saying you should do Yoga outside in the snow, but a long walk or hike are great ways to get away from stuffy, dry buildings and enjoy some fresh (okay…frigid) air.

Lately I’ve been making it a point to go hiking—even when it’s cold and wet, when leaving the house is the last thing I want to do. We had 17 straight days of rain in Portland earlier this month.

It was brutal and I was starting to crack, questioning my existence and growing emotional over insignificant things. You know, the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) works.

After the rain calmed down, I took a little field trip up to Forest Park. I often feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland when I wander around the trails here, like I don’t belong in such a magical place.

I hadn’t been up to my usual stomping grounds in a while, because work and rain got in the way. The never-ending rain had transformed the trails since my last time up there. I got pretty camera happy, like a damn tourist. The beauty of that—I was able to mix two of my favorite things together. Exercise and creativity.

Moss invaded every branch, turning the forest into a world carpeted with AstroTurf…

lower macleay hiking

Speaking of Alice in Wonderland, this tree kind of reminded me of Caterpillar…

portland hiking

The Queen of Hearts…yeah, she’d live here at the Stone House

stone house graffiti

Too bad the moody trees destroyed the East Wing a bit…

tree damage stone house

In fact, it’s one mood swing after another with Mother Nature. Trees crashing everywhere…

winter hiking in portland

Becoming wet canvases for leafy masterpieces…

pacific northwest winter

What was once Balch Creek is now a rambunctious river…

balch creek

… a damn cold river you don’t want to slip into.

So yeah, it’s a bit precarious on the disintegrating trails right now, with waterfalls sprouting up where they’re not supposed to be and chunks of the path eagerly becoming one with the “creek.”

But it feels so good out there. I feel renewed instead of sluggish, in tune with nature instead of fighting against it.

If you need some motivation to get moving, don’t wait for New Year’s resolutions or ideal weather. Bundle up and go see what nature’s been up to.

26 thoughts on “Forest Wonderland

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