This week's Lens Artist challenge topic is indeed a challenge. The keyword is hideaway. The nearby woodland and forests are my hideaway - a place to get away from home and work and hide among the trees. Leya enjoys the privilege of a new glasshouse where she can escape. I have no such place inside my home. I had to look elsewhere for inspiration.
Where can I find that quiet space when I need to escape? In New Jersey, one of the most populous states in the USA, it’s very challenging to find those spaces. When I am outside, my anxiety is constant with people everywhere despite social distancing. In a previous blog post, I have written about my practice of “Shinrinyoku” ("forest bathing") where I go deep into the woods where everything is silent (or as silent as one can get in New Jersey) for peaceful for relaxation and catharsis.
Rebecca Lawton is a fluvial geologist and former river guide who writes about water in the West.
River guides might know that nature is transformative for the human body and psyche; but the mechanism behind such profound change is less universally agreed upon and understood. How nature heals had been little researched until 1982, when Tomohide Akiyama, who was then secretary of the Forest Agency in Japan, coined the term shinrin-yoku (‘forest bathing’) to describe the practice of getting into the woods for body and mind renewal, to counter lifestyle-related health issues.
The tradition was already ages-old in Japan, but naming it went hand in hand with making recommendations for best practices: one should walk, sit, gaze and exercise among the trees; eat well-balanced meals of organic, locally sourced food; and, if available, immerse in hot springs. All five senses should be engaged, especially for certification as one of Japan’s official Forest Therapy Bases, which are well-maintained, embraced by the local community, and which are required to show, in practitioners, a decrease in physiological markers such as levels of the stress hormone cortisol after wandering in the woods.
When Akiyama recommended forest bathing all those years ago, he knew about the pioneering studies of phytoncides – basically, pungent essential oils – conducted by the Soviet scientist Boris P Tokin in the 1920s and ’30s. The oils, volatile compounds exuded by conifers and some other plants, reduce blood pressure and boost immune function, among other benefits.
Reviewing some of the responses to the challenge, I see that I had good company in Priscilla Galasso and Tina Schell find escapes in similar familiar spaces.
The weather was near perfect yesterday with late afternoon temperatures around 17ºC and a slight breeze. Bhavna wanted to go hiking. I chose the Dry Run Creek Trail in West Amwell Township in Hunterdon County, a trail that ends near the trailhead to the Rockhopper Trail in Lamberville in Mercer County. We hiked the Rockhopper Trailearlier in the year. The trails heads face are direct across on Route 518/Brunswick Avenue but are in different towns.
At the start of the hike, we encountered one other person, who was exciting the trail. We walked the meandering trail from end to end and back again without seeing another person.
The canopy was coloured faint yellow, orange, red, and green; a mixture of fall leaf colour in various stages of change.
Leaves rustled and crunched under our shoes. We could feel a gentle breeze. The scent of decaying leaves perfumed the air.
Dappled light lit the trail and fell on our faces.
At an accessible spot along Dry Run Creek, Bhavna sat on a rock in quiet contemplation.
We found a frog at our feet.
There were signs of earlier land usage are evident along this trail, including these old stone walls marking property lines, The wall travels down the slopes toward the creek.
Oh, the Places We See31st October 2020 at 10:41 AM
Your hideaway is beautiful and reminds me of our Great Smoky Mountains with the tall trees, dense forests, long pathways, and areas where you see no one. I love your close-up shots best -- the frog, moss, etc. Thanks for sharing your neck of the woods with us!
Khürt Williams2nd November 2020 at 11:13 AM
Some day, when the global pandemic has been pushed back, I hope to visit the Great Smoky Mountains.
Oh, the Places We See2nd November 2020 at 7:05 PM
It’s a beautiful place in the world, and I’m glad we live so close. Come see us when you can!
Lens-Artists Challenge #120 – What A Treat! | Travels and Trifles24th October 2020 at 12:00 PM
[…] of Island in the Net shared a beautiful natural retreat in a densely populated area of my former home state, New […]
Amy20th October 2020 at 4:33 PM
Beautiful fall foliage!
Khürt Williams22nd October 2020 at 1:40 AM
Thank you, Amy.
pattimoed20th October 2020 at 7:50 AM
Hi, Khürt. We are doing the same thing...hiking in quiet places. It really does bring us some peace of mind. Funny, we used to live near you....in Neshanic Station and New Brunswick, many years ago.
Khürt Williams22nd October 2020 at 1:41 AM
I hope the weather stays conducive to hiking as Winter approaches.
pattimoed24th October 2020 at 3:38 PM
We are hoping for that, too.
Teresa20th October 2020 at 7:21 AM
That is such a great hideaway! Love the autumn foliage.
I. J. Khanewala19th October 2020 at 10:02 PM
What a beautiful place for a walk
Leya19th October 2020 at 3:47 PM
A superb trail and a lovely hideaway. I would go there tomorrow if it was possible! The nature here looks like in my home country, Sweden. Thank you so much for taking us!