When a Hike Doesn't Happen
Updated: Jul 29
Part of my New Year’s Resolution this year was to focus on my FIVE NEEDS. These are five things I need to include in each day in order to survive (both physically and mentally). They are:
All of my needs were given their own color in my planner, and each day I go through and highlight where I got my needs. Most of them have been pretty easy to attain. I can add health in my day by adding raw veggies to lunch, or starting my morning with yoga and meditation. Family is another easy one. We have family dinners four out of the five weeknights (Tuesday Goo has ballet) and we play card games and do puzzles in the evenings. Creativity and music are also super easy to get in. Music is always playing, and I seem to always be painting, writing, taking photos, and finding fancy ways to fold laundry. My planner is an array of oranges, yellows, blues, and yellows. The only color missing?
My blogging goal of 2020 was to hike at least once a week. The first two weeks of January were a breeze, mostly because the temps weren’t all that low and we were still in vacation mode. Our first hike of the decade, Rock Bridge Memorial Park led to a few other short hikes at our local conservation center. But soon my hiking mojo began to fade. When the temps dropped it became much nicer to stay indoors with a lit fire, the soft fur of furchildren, and fuzzy socks.
So I tried other methods of getting my “nature” in each day. I added nature sounds to my morning yoga. I bought a succulent, which I get to water once a week and make eye-contact with the other six days as I do the dishes. Technically it’s nature, but it’s not enough. I know what I need. I need to really hear the birds chirping and feel the ground smush beneath my feet, breathe in that damp earth smell that only comes after a thaw.
It hasn’t been all my fault that I haven’t made it outside. I can’t control the weather, the ice and snow we were hammered with on Friday, making it too dangerous to take on Death Mountain (the name we’ve given our vertical street). Nor can I control the 20-degree temps and the fact that Goo was one of eleven kids in her classroom to contract influenza, despite all of them receiving their vaccine. So yes, obviously, we’ve been staying indoors lately, playing Mario Kart, snuggling under blankies, and watching Studio Ghibli.
Weather and illnesses aside, however, it seems lately my Id and my Superego have been at odds with one another, bickering heavily about the nature need while my Ego backs away slowly, preferably somewhere with paint, coffee, and Native American flute music.
“Why don’t you go for a walk?” Superego asks.
“I’d feel bad going for a walk without taking the dog,” Id grumbles.
“That’s a great idea! Take him to the park.” Superego cheers.
“That would take too much time. I have things to do you know,” says grumpy Id.
“Then why don’t you—”
“It’s too cold!” *Grumble Grumble* “Coffee’s done. Where’s my blanket? Just try the flute music again.”
What I think I’ve come to realize is that there are two sides of the same Lina coin. One part of me loves to hike in the rugged wilderness, getting caught in thornbushes and letting my nose and ears numb to the cold. The other part of me loves to hibernate during a thunderstorm, jazz music at light volume, while I feed my creativity need. These two very opposite quirks of mine need to be indulged somehow, especially in the winter, when things get a little imbalanced and all I want to do is sleep until March.
I remember when I first started the year, I got my nature in by taking Howl—our ornery white husky—to the backyard for a walk. Since we live on Death Mountain, our backyard is pretty vertical too, making it a good workout. We did three laps. Howl bounded around, sniffing mole holes and chasing squirrels. I admired the winter foliage, the patterns of tree bark, and wondered how I might paint them later. And when our walk was done, I felt like an Earth Goddess, feral and wild-eyed and scented with oak leaves and dirt. It was no hike, but my need was met.
I’ve also, in the past, poured a bunch of birdseed onto the back deck and sat beside the double-paned glass door to watch the juncos come. Some of my most successful pieces were painted by the back door as the juncos and jays and cardinals pecked and fluttered. Even though I was indoors, warm and sleepy with a sketchbook, my nature need was definitely recharging.
And I’ve also noticed lately that I can meet this need while planning hikes. Since I haven’t been able to leave for a good long hike, I’ve been putting together a 2020 hiking bucket list, and I’ve been researching tons of hiking trails, viewing photos of things that I didn’t even know existed in my home state. It’s pretty exciting! Enlightening? Yeah that too.
So I suppose what I really need to do is focus on getting both of these sides met. The hibernating side and the feral side. And on the weekends, once Goo is better—and, of course, weather permitting—we’ll take on a few trails, even if they’re only ten minutes away.
And in the meantime, I’ll continue to put together that bucket list, drink my chai lattes, and watch the juncos.
Until then…may your skies be blue and your decks be filled with birds.