This weekend we had the quintessential autumn-in-New-England day. It was perfect, stem-to-stern. We cleared calendars, proclaimed it a family day in our household and set out to enjoy Mama Nature dressed in her best.
We headed to a small town in the Northern area of our state. It’s so cute and quaint that it just hurts. You feel like you are walking into a calendar, with all the perfect shots of the town. Stone church at the center, miniscule “intersection”, coffee shops, chocolate shops, galleries, outdoor sculptures every which way. And brilliant autumn leaves….oranges, yellows, russets and reds, fluttering down from the trees as we ate our lunch at a little spot nestled in a sweet courtyard. The sky was a brilliant sky-blue (remember that crayon?), with billowy, white clouds that could be seen though these colorful trees.
It really was a fabulous day. So great that you just don’t want it to end; you know those kinds of days. We’ve all had them and man, when they make an appearance, it’s just a wonderful thing. Everything was aligned…no one was bickering (adults or kids), everyone just went with the flow (happily), there was no fussing or mussing. Copacetic in every direction.
You know when a dog is just so dog-gone happy that they roll around in the grass and tumble and roll some more, like they just don’t know what to do with themselves? That kind of a day.
During our day, prior to the great lunch at the cute restaurant, we did some hiking. We followed a river and a path for about two hours. Meandering, listening, watching…lots to see in the woods at this time of the year. The rain the day before seemed to have amped up the color of everything, too. And SO much color out there now. Quick! Grab a hold of it before it’s gone…
While we walked, of course, we were talking, picking things up, observing. My younger daughter said something that floored me. You never know what’s going to come out of kids’ mouths…it never fails to amuse. She said “when I go on walks like this, I think about the elements. Earth, sky, water, and fire. There’s no fire here in the woods, but the others are here.”
What? This. The elements. From an 8 year old.
And just when I thought her interest in the hike was waning. Silly me.
I love how kids put things together. We had traveled in the spring to Arizona and stayed at a resort where the elements were a design theme and apparently, that stuck with her (she does mention wanting to go back there pretty often). But here she was, taking something that she experienced on a trip months ago at a resort and applying it to our lovely hike this past weekend. Just shows that travel pays off.
Then, that got me thinking. The elements. We feel so at home in the elements, don’t we?
I noticed that as we passed fellow hikers, each one gave us a hello and most said something along the lines of “gorgeous day out today!” We also saw some kayakers and sure enough, they waved to us on the river’s edge. I remember that when we were in New Hampshire this summer, we’d be out on the lake and if you passed another boat, you gave a little wave. Waterway courtesies. Usually those waves were accompanied by a smile, too, or a nod.
In the woods. On a lake. In a boat. No, I’m not going to break into a Suess-like poem right now, although I probably could.
So why are strangers so much more hospitable when we are out IN the elements? Probably because we are happier there. It’s where we are meant to be. How many times have you heard a person say “ah, the ocean…that’s where I feel at home”? That’s my battle cry, for sure. A random wave and smile never happens to me at the gas-station or when I’m crossing the parking lot at the grocery store, I can tell you that. And if it did, you might look at that person *funny* and swerve wide around them. But that never happens when you are on a trail. Or at the beach. Or on a mountain. Out there, it’s all just fine.
To be out in the elements…all is balanced within us and around us. Smiles are quicker to materialize. It’s reaffirming and good to see.
Take it from the resident 8 year old.