The deer came. The woodpeckers came. An armadillo surprised us. We were quiet for a couple of hours, but the woods around us were full of sound. Robins, doves, frogs, hawks, chickadees, creaking trees, whooshing wind and skittering skinks provided an almost musical backdrop for our stroll, and the peaceful greens and browns of the winter swamp soothed our eyes. For a little while we didn’t have to do anything but be present and enjoy, and it was lovely.
Yes– today I hosted the my first monthly Wordless Wetland Walk on a beautiful woodland trail in Jean Lafitte National Park. Before we even began, the deer came. This seemed special to me, because I’d asked the deer to please come. They weren’t close– way down the road actually, but one stood a long time watching, then eventually walked away, its white tail flicking coyly side to side.
Our walk was wordless to help us be present. We wouldn’t be chatting or making small talk, or even trying to find out the name of that bird or the species of this tree. We wouldn’t be talking about how pretty the woods looked or how good the wind felt. We would just be quiet, and look for the stillness in our own souls. We’d use our senses to help us stay in the moment.
We walked to the base of one of my favorite trees and sat for a while, perched or nestled among its moss-covered roots.
We gazed up at the Spanish moss swaying in the wind.
We peered close up at leaves, acorns and dropped maple flowers,
We looked far at clouds and sky and treetops full of birds.
We didn’t speak, take photos, or even gesture much. We just walked quietly, looked, and sometimes stopped or sat. (These photos are from my scouting walk yesterday.) We spread out for most of the time, so each of us had our own space in the woods. Toward the end of the walk we clumped up and watched an armadillo for quite a while – they don’t see or hear very well, so I don’t think this one even knew we were all about 6 feet from it.
We softened our gaze, slowed our steps, and breathed. We forgot concerns or worries, at least for part of the time. We marveled, noticed, appreciated, and most importantly, just existed. Sound good? Want to try it yourself? Tomorrow I’ll be writing some tips on enjoying a wordless walk anywhere. And if you’re in the NOLA area, check the Happenings tab above to see when I’m hosting the next wordless walk!