Back in April, shortly after Governor Murphy and the counties and townships closed all the state and local parks, I went on a search for open spaces to hike to control my anxiety.
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.
I don't have many words today. I woke up late. The sun was shining, and I knew I wanted to have beer and bratwurst for lunch. After lunch, Bhavna wanted to enjoy the outdoors given how much rain we had this week but we also knew that the state had relaxed some of the restrictions on public parks and expected that every idiot would be out and we didn't trust that people would remember to physical distance and wear a mask. We choose to walk around the loop of the Skyview Preserve in Hopewell. I had been here by myself a few weeks ago and I knew that most people don't use these trails.
Locally something beautiful happened. Hopewell Valley mayors reached out to nonprofit organizations like FoHVOS, D&R Greenway, NJCF, and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail and together they collaborated to keep trails open where feasible. Speaking in a single voice, they figuratively said, “We are here for you. Our public lands are for the public to enjoy if you can do so responsibly.” They provided a thoughtful approach to put community welfare first. Not surprisingly Princeton and Lawrence municipal leaders announced they would stay open as well.MercerMe Community Contributor Lisa Wolff
The trail was soggy, but Bhavna must have enjoyed being out because she chuffed through it. We found a frog sunning on the side of the pool of water where I had observed tadpoles week earlier. We spooked the frog and it jumped into the large pool of water but not before I was able to get very close with my iPhone 11 Pro.
I observed more variety of flowers this time, including what I think is wood anemone and jack in the pulpit. Bhavna wants to return when the trail is drier.
I captured fewer images on this hike. I used the Fotodiox M42-FX adapter and my with my Fujifilm X-T2 and used the Velvia Film Simulation. To keep things simpler, I captured all the photos at f/8 and with the camera in aperture priority mode. With this lens on my Fujifilm X-T2, I have to focus manually, which is easier with focus peaking, but focusing is slower than autofocus.