Looking out over Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire. Photo credit: Nate Conroy.
Up on the Eastern Promenade last Saturday morning we went looking for contrasts. The wind was biting at the top of the walk, and the air all but still once we reached the shoreline. The beauty of the water was marked by intermittent caps of white before us, and the buzz of the city held fast in its concrete over our shoulders. The chaos of our work and world back home was punctuated by the calm of the moment at hand.
In the middle of Baxter Woods in Portland there is a ring of benches that invite passersby to come, sit and reflect. At our Beauty Walk yesterday we did just that. In fact we followed the impulse of the trees around us and we circled the woods three times, returning to the center ring between subsequent jaunts, to reflect on a portion of Aldo Leopold’s tale of the “Good Oak” in A Sand County Almanac.
He called wilderness “a symbol of a way of life that can nourish the spirit”. He described it as the source of equilibrium in a world that is otherwise often antagonistic to sanity. He wrestled to illuminate the wilderness experience as “an intangible something compounded of the countless intimacies” that we know when we pay attention to our surroundings. He called wilderness a “spiritual necessity”.