Posted April 13, 2020
Written by Kyla Isakson
March 24, 2020 at the Walter Newton Trail-Rainbow Falls in Plymouth, NH
The recent spread of COVID-19 has changed everyday life for a few weeks now, and it seems that things will continue to change. In an effort to make the most of this constant change, my family and I adventured to New Hampshire to help my sister finish moving out of her college dorm for the rest of the semester. Instead of seeing this as an inconvenience, we saw it as an opportunity to spend time together and get into nature. The area had been blanketed with a few inches of snow the night before, so we had to prepare for the major differences in terrain from those we were accustomed to in Massachusetts. After the last of her belongings were loaded into the car, we drove down the street, away from the small college town, towards the quiet wilderness. As we walked along the trail, I led the way. Unintentionally, I was the test subject and warning signal because I was the first to slip on each patch of ice along the way. This required me to be increasingly aware of every step I took and take my time walking to the waterfall.
When we reached the waterfall, we quickly realized it was worth the difficult and icy hike along the trail. As we listened to the rushing waterfall and took a few moments to explore on our own, I suggested that we pause for a mindfulness practice. As we all stood in silence, I prompted my family to reflect on our relationship to water. We were surrounded by water in its three physical phases: solid, liquid, and gas. The snow and ice beneath our feet provided support; the water rushing down the waterfall provided a relaxing sound; the water vapor leaving our mouths and noses as we exhaled reminded us to take deep breaths and appreciate the fresh air. Water is critical for life: it replenishes groundwater supply; it fills lakes and streams; and it provides nourishment for plants and animals, including humans.
As we continued along the trail, one after another we all managed to slip on a patch of ice under the slushy snow. Luckily, none of us were badly hurt, and we had some good laughs while watching each other slide down a small hill or fall in slow motion to the ground. It was the first time in a while that all four members of my family had done something together, so it was uplifting to take a moment to embrace the simplicity of hiking while practicing social distancing. We all find value in visiting nature to escape the stresses of everyday life, and during this time of uncertainty, we needed a walk in the woods more than anything else. Since then, we have tried to go on a walk in a natural area closer to home, and it has really helped us to cope with this challenging situation.
I hope that you too can find happiness and a sense of connection to both the environment and the members of your family as we get through this difficult time together.