Two years ago when I was struggling with hyperthyroidism and undergoing treatment for Graves Eye Disease, I worked with a therapist to help me deal with anxiety caused by my thyroid as well worry over going blind. We determined that being in nature was relaxing for me. Something about the quiet sounds of wind blowing through leaves, birds calling out to each other and water rushing in nearby streams pushed out the unwanted worry about “everything”.
Taking Bhavna along with me1, I bought hiking boots, pants, shirts and socks. I bought layers so that I could continue through the colder months of winter. I bought a new camera, my Fuji X-T2 so that I could document my adventures. Photography was part of the process and it requires attention to detail, focused concentration, and envisioning. After my final eye surgery in December of last year, camera in hand, I started visiting every trail I could find. Then COVID-19 hit and my mental health recovery was aborted and I had something new to be anxious about.
In April of 2020, shortly after Governor Murphy and the counties and townships closed all the state and local parks, I went on a search for open spaces for hiking. I needed to control my anxiety. Fortunately, many of the open space preserves were still open, one of which, Skyview & Garfi Preserves is just a few minutes drive in the nearby town of Hopewell.
Skyview and Garfi Preserves protect a series of meadows, woodlands, hedgerows, and a portion of Woodsville Brook near Route 31. A hiking trail meanders through these habitats. The Garfi Preserve is owned entirely by FoHVOS, while the Skyview Preserve is co-owned with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
I went by myself, slowly inhaling the cool spring air and noticing the small flowers and budding plants at my feet. Dappled light covered my face. It didn’t take long for me to find peace. I wanted to sit in the open meadow and enjoy the moment in the sun, perhaps take a nap. But I had not the forethought to bring a chair.
Submitted for the 100 Days To Offload challenge.
- I had double vision for the last four months of 2019. Bhavna drove me everywhere. ↩