A Place to Clear My Mind

By Skye Marthaler

Writing is easy, that is not to say what I write is any good, but the act of putting pen to paper, or in this case typing words on a laptop has rarely been a challenge. I look forward to writing. The words flow out of my mind as my fingers happily type them onto the screen. If there is an issue, it usually is having too many thoughts and ideas swirling around my mind to capture them adequately.

All goes well until the ideas stop. I struggled with this piece, staring at the blank white screen waiting for inspiration to strike, then getting more frustrated when the words just would not pop into my mind. Writer’s block sneaking up and whispering, “Ha ha! It can happen to you as well!”

I should not have been surprised. Things have been quite hectic over the past few months with the juggle of family related events, travel, and the stress multiple projects coming due. It was safe to say that a lot was on my mind and I was not in the right frame of reference to write a piece about the outdoors. Fortunately, I knew where to find a cure.

The mountains are great, beaches are amazing, but for me peace of mind and emotional well-being are found amongst the trees. Most any woods will do at pretty much any time of day. The only condition I really have for a walk in the woods is the less traveled the better. It is always easier to gather my thoughts when I have a bit of solitude.

Using the woods as a retreat started when I was growing up on a farm in Wisconsin. I come from a large family, six sisters and one brother. To escape the “tyranny” of my sisters I often found my way to a small grove just up a hill from the farm. While still close enough to home to hear if my mom called for me, it was also far enough away to be a whole other world where I could be the hero of my imaginary flights of fancy.

Those elements of escape and adventure remain part of allure of the woods to this day. There is something about hiking down a wooded trail by myself that is very satisfying to me. Part of it is the escape itself, knowing that I am stepping away from things even if it is only for a few hours. Then there is still the rush of adventure. I can let my imagination run a bit wild out in the woods even more so if it is a new area not yet explored.

This last trip out in the woods helped clear the mental debris on a variety of issues I had been dwelling on, but it was not until almost the end of the hike though that the light bulb went off in my head about what to write about for this piece. Once the idea sprang forward it seemed so obvious. What better thing to write about than a walk in the woods, the place I use to clear my mind.