Stop and Pet the Trees

I know I said this wasn’t going to be hippie dippy and certainly “Stop and pet the trees” falls into the category, but it comes from a hike I did many years ago with my friend Laurel. It was winter in the bay area which means GREEN. Lush green hillsides and glowing green moss growing on trees throughout the forests. We were hiking out on the coastal trail above Stinson Beach and we ran across a tree that had fallen long ago, but was somehow still alive. It looked like a big bench, but also absolutely glowing with lush green moss. Laurel (who IS a little hippie-ish) exclaimed that it looked like it had fur and went to “pet” it. Since then, when I hike in the wintertime I like to stop and pet the trees.

Today in trying to stick with my plan to walk or do yoga every day during my healing sabbatical, I drove to one of my favorite hiking spots. In the past week, I’ve discovered that hiking/walking in the bay area almost always includes steep and semi-steep inclines and declines. As much as I’ve always despised the uphills (I grew up in the Midwest flat-lands and am not accustomed to an uphill climb of any sort), I’ve discovered with my particular back pain that it’s the downhills that kill me. Not usually while I’m hiking which can be deceptive, but usually a few hours after I’m done or the next day. Frustrating since I LOVE hiking. I decided that for the rest of my sabbatical, I would have to forgo hiking if I’m going to attempt to heal, so this was my last hurrah for a month or so.

I ended up at Bon Tempe lake which is a four mile loop trail around a lovely lake on Mt. Tamalpais (Tam. for short) in Marin County. I recalled that it’s a pretty flat trail, so I figured it wouldn’t do much damage. The jury is still out, but oh! The trees were so PETTABLE! I’ll miss hiking and walking because it’s a great way to clear my mind, breathe fresh air and get some relatively easy (easier than running) exercise and stress relief, but I’m hoping that if I attempt to pick up swimming which I know will be much easier on my back, I’ll find that same sense of clearing of the mind I get from hiking and used to get from running. Not as beautiful and no fresh air, but I guess I can still take strolls with my husband through the flat sections of our neighborhood.

A little more about stopping and petting the trees. So much like stopping to smell the roses, in healing, I think stress-relief and slowing down are two really important elements. Consider stopping to smell the roses, the trees, the salt air, the fresh snow, the cut grass. Anything to take a tiny break, notice the world around you and de-stress.