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Nature Notes: Chase the blues away with a nature walk

We all need a break from these difficult times, and I have remedy.

Take a 10- or 15-minute nature break. It’s great medicine, very calming and good for the soul. This prescription is easier than you think and a time-tested remedy.

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order,” said John Burroughs (1837-1921), an American naturalist and essayist. Or, how about Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), a renowned essayist, poet, and author of “Walden,” who once wrote, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”

Thankfully, there are hundreds of accessible, well-groomed nature trails in our area, open to the public from sun-up to sun-down.

The Avalonia Land Conservancy, headquartered in Mystic, for example, is the largest non-profit land trust in southeastern Connecticut, with a wonderful assortment of preserves and trails to enjoy.

To their credit, they currently conserve an astonishing 83 properties in communities from Griswold, Groton, and Ledyard to North Stonington, Preston, and Stonington, with over 4,000 acres of forests, fields, marshes, and wetlands, preserved in perpetuity.

“We’ve seen so much traffic to our website (avalonia.org),” said Terri Eickel, director of development and programing for Avalonia Land Conservancy, adding. “These are people just looking for something to do and an opportunity to get outside.”

Eickle said Avalonia has an abundance of 10-minute trails or two-hour ones, designed for all levels of participation, with maps, directions, and descriptions, listed on their easy-to-navigate website, under “Preserves.”

For instance, “If you have small kids, and you can’t do a long walk,” Eickle said, “we have easy trails that will accommodate you, and give the kids lots to see and do.”

Or, if you are more adventursome, Eickle said, “Our blue blazed trail at the TriTown Forest Preserve in North Stonington is getting known in the trail running community as one of the top places to train for trail running, because it has so many elevation challenges.”

What I like about Avalonia trails are their attractive trailhead signs, painted in brown, with yellow lettering. They remind me of our classic national park signs, painted in the same colors, yet cheerful and welcoming. In addition, Avalonia trails are beautifully groomed, no doubt by legions of volunteers, making them easy to travel on.

“We provide a service that is obviously not nearly as direct as a food bank, or some group providing clothes for people, but we provide a pretty tangible service that brings people some peace, tranquility and happiness [during these troubled times], and that is great,” Eickle added.

So, my friends, get up and go! And remember what Dr. Seuss once said, “You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.” In our case here, it’s not a mountain, but a lovely nature preserve that can make your day.

Bill Hobbs lives in Stonington. He can be reached for comments at whobbs246@gmail.com.

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