August 24, 2014

Nature. The Benefit of Hard Labor

Radnor Lake State Park is practically in my backyard. I first began using the park on a daily basis after my dad died. Not only did I find consolation in nature, but with all the casseroles and lasagna that showed up day after day, I had put on some pounds. Hiking the trails allowed me to process my thoughts and 20 pounds later, I was back to my fighting weight. After I moved away, I would continue to hike the trails when I came home for visits at Thanksgiving or Christmas, noting every year the fresh red carnation placed on a one of the memorial benches for a woman who died too young. The park has a personal feel to it. I can't explain it. Maybe it's due to decades of people caring packed into the soil.

Yesterday I volunteered to help with trail maintenance. I left my iPhone at home so no pics and there was no time for sketching. Four hours of carting a wheelbarrow loaded with mulch 100 feet back and forth. I'm not doing the math to figure out how many miles I carted a wheelbarrow full of mulch, nor my pack load, but after a hot bath I napped for 2 hours. Having a summer cold probably didn't help but I ignored that. People on the trails would say thank you as they walked by, which made it feel like we were special trail people, but anyone can volunteer. I'm surprised I hadn't volunteered sooner. I felt a bit better knowing the 20-year old college kid was as exhausted as I was when he said he'd be fine if he never saw another wheelbarrow in his life. A mother had brought her ten-year old hoping to instill a sense of stewardship in him. He was a trooper, though he was equally wary of a spider and a deer so nature might not be his thing right now. It was hard work, but when I'm on the trails walking on fresh mulch instead of mud, I've always been appreciative. It felt good to give back.

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