I’ve done it plenty – I’ve stayed inside because of rain. I like dry weather and blue skies and long views. But I’ve also learned to like fog and mist and rain and even a downpour here and there. I’ve learned to love raindrops dripping from flowers and leaves all shiny and wet.
While I’ve never been a fan of hiking in the mud- in fact walking in mud for fourteen miles on my first day on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont made me cry – I realize that a walk in the rain can often be lovely. It shifts the perspective closer- to the moss on the trail side, or a bark-darkened tree, or a puddle adorned with fallen leaves. Rain puts up a curtain around the long views so you notice what’s right in front of you. Sometimes its a box turtle in the trail. Or a squirrel fixing up a nest for the evening.
Last night I hosted a wordless walk – it was supposed to be to enjoy the sunset and moonrise, but clouds and rain all day made visibility of the sunset unlikely. So people who’d planned to attend the walk mostly stayed away – rain tends to do that.
I learned from six months hiking the Appalachian Trail that if I only hiked when it wasn’t raining, I would never finish the journey. It rains a lot in the eastern woodlands. Yesterday I had nowhere I needed to be and I could have easily stayed home and canceled the walk, knowing that people understand that you don’t go out walking in the rain.
But I’d been inside too much this week. So I went. And I’m so glad I did. The quality of light as day shifted to night was magical.
And the moon peeked out from the clouds for a moment!
The breeze was the absolute perfect temperature, and I got what I’d come out for – stillness for my soul.
Here’s one more wordless video for you – raindrops on the bayou. Watch the ripples. So calming.
So what are your thoughts? Will you go walking in the rain? What do you love about rain?
I just spent two days and nights away on retreat. Even though I was the host and facilitator, I had plenty of time to soak in the rejuvenating power of nature and really hear my soul speak. She said something like this – it was telepathic so not exactly these words, but this was the feeling: “There’s abundance. There’s always enough. The world is full of riches and pure delight, laying them at your feet. Love is all around you.” She was so calm, so shining, so bright. And I don’t think she was talking about material riches, like gold or diamonds. It was much more about the abundance of beauty and life and love all around me. So much to appreciate.
Would you like to hear your soul? All you have to do is close your eyes and imagine your soul coming out of your body and manifesting itself in a way you can visualize – maybe a person, maybe a glowing light, maybe an animal – it could be anything. Then feel its wisdom, its pure love, its complete acceptance of you. Feel it wash over you. Then hear what it has to tell you, as it sits or stands or floats before you. Listen to its message, then let it come back into your body in whatever way it does – maybe straight to your heart, maybe through the top of your head, or some other way. Then feel yourself fill up with the love and wisdom of your soul, and open your eyes and see the world from the point of view of your soul. This is a beautiful visualization to practice over and over. It’s one of my favorites, both for when I’m feeling stressed and when I’m feeling peaceful.
What I love about retreats like this is that it was a weekend dedicated to pure rest and play. We had lots of time alone to rest and reflect, and time together to process, share and hike and explore in nature. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow, but here’s one of my favorite photos from the weekend:
I’ve been drawing too – I missed my drawing time on Friday, but that’s ok – I picked up again Saturday and today. I sat inside the small gazebo on the gorgeous grounds of the B&B where we stayed and drew the view through the lattice.
And today I played with the message from my soul, and with a somewhat green version of my wild and precious tree. Quick play sketches.
Message me or let me know in the comments!
In between the wild pigs and the owl, things stayed interesting. I completely surprised a raccoon who was gorging on holly berries just two steps from the trail. Poor thing had to splash away when I walked by, there was so much water everywhere. I didn’t have a chance to snap a photo, but I do have evidence of his meal!
Then I strolled a little further until I encountered two squirrels crazily chasing each other along the boardwalk. They were running at top speed toward me, completely oblivious until the first one came within about three feet of me and froze. Then the other one froze. Where to go? Into the water? Past me? Back the other way? The three of us stared at each other with quiet curiosity, the squirrels still breathing heavily from all their running. I slowly reached down for my camera and broke the spell. They spun around and dashed back down the boardwalk like lightning. I laughed out loud. It was like watching Chip and Dale. Seemed like we’d all shared the joke without talking. How many other ways would the universe surprise me?
Well, with bunnies. Adorable bunnies who were rather damp as they had probably been swimming or at least wading. One watched me calmly as it munched on poison ivy. I guess bunnies can eat it without harm.
And then there were the sunbathing squirrels. I mean, wouldn’t you lay out on the boardwalk if your fur was wet from swimming? I so hated to disturb them (I saw two!) so I walked very slowly to give them time to find a tree to hop to and skip leaping back into the water.
The animals I called for my wordless walks two months ago were the deer, and it’s funny – while I rarely used to see deer when I went to the swamp, now they come. Almost every time. I saw six or seven two days ago. I still don’t really believe it works, but it’s a fun game and I enjoy making “oneness” connections with the animals, even if it could all be chalked up to coincidence.
This time, I didn’t call anyone in particular. I sort of sent a “surprise me” sentiment out to the universe. And almost immediately a great blue heron lifted off and flew gracefully through the trees. I whooshed in a breath of wonder. Then as I walked a little further, I heard what sounded like dragons. I am not kidding. Turns out that they were a passel of young wild pigs, some all black and some tan with black spots, like something out of a children’s’ story. They ran off too quickly for me to get a photo, but I heard and saw them twice, snuffling and grunting and snorting and splashing through the flooded forest. What a cool surprise – I’ve never ever seen pigs at the swamp!
I waded through shin-deep water for over a mile, relishing my Amazon-like adventure, and noting that I’d need to choose a different trail for my wordless walk the next day. I wondered where the armadillos had gone – there was so much water and so little high ground. I’m sure they know what to do and had taken refuge somewhere.
Eventually, I headed to a less remote, far more civilized, fully boardwalked trail, and even a small portion of it was under water! I walked amidst myriad lizards and snakes. I surprised two small alligators who splashed off the boardwalk- I don’t know who scared who, it happened so fast!
On the way back, I thought – ok – I would love to see an owl. I sent a request for an owl, wordlessly. I don’t even know quite what I did. And then I dropped attachment and kept walking. Sure enough, a few minutes later, there was my owl. As I crept closer, she glided silently away through the cypresses further up the trail. But when I quietly rounded the next bend, there she was, perched and watching me, then turning to gaze down into the water. I did my best barred owl call and I can only describe the owl’s expression as bemused – like, “Really? You expect me to believe you are an owl??” But she didn’t fly away. The owl ignored me and stared down into the water, perhaps eying her next meal.
Whether the heron, pigs, deer and owl came for me or for themselves doesn’t really matter — I’m just so glad I had the gift of a moment to enjoy watching them. Give it a try next time you’re outside. Call the animals and see if they come. You can read more about wordlessness and oneness and techniques to connect to the natural world in Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. And watch for announcements- I’m going to start up a new Wild World virtual book club soon!
Also coming soon: More animal calling stories and shared wordless walks from some of you! It’s not too late to send me stories or pictures from your own wordless walk – I’d love to hear! Email me at email@example.com .
Lastly, tomorrow (Monday) this blog is going to move to self-hosted so I have a little more ability to do some cool things with it. My only worry is that I won’t know how to do said cool things, so if anything seems a little wonky for the next while, you’ll know why. I’m hoping for a super-smooth transition, but I know I have some skills to learn too. Wish me luck and I’ll hopefully be checking in again very soon!