Many people find their peace near the ocean. The crashing water, the cool sand, and being able to see the curve of the earth in the horizon calms the turbulence of their lives. They are able to take the salt air into their lungs and breathe out the bad. Feel the calm of the air and find the calm within themselves.
I am not one of those people.
I enjoy the beach. I find it lovely. I dislike sand though, I hate taking it home with me. I enjoy seeing the ocean and walking along the shoreline, but that is not where my peace lays.
My peace is being surrounded by trees.
“All forests have their own personality. I don't just mean the obvious differences, like how an English woodland is different from a Central American rain forest, or comparing tracts of West Coast redwoods to the saguaro forests of the American Southwest... they each have their own gossip, their own sound, their own rustling whispers and smells. A voice speaks up when you enter their acres that can't be mistaken for one you'd hear anyplace else, a voice true to those particular tress, individual rather than of their species.” -Charles de Lint
Some of my fondest memories of growing up involve being in the woods. I remember wanting to grow up and be a horse, a magical one of course, and having my mother time me as I raced around the campsite and having her tell me that I was the fastest horse she had ever seen as I neighed and stomped the ground. (I was a weird kid, I know this. I believe my name was Sparkles…I KNOW.) I remember my father dropping my sisters and I off at the top of a ridge and pointing down to the road below and telling us, he would see us down there. I remember picking berries and hunting fairies and pretending my cousins and I were airplanes. (Weird, I know.) I remember going on adventures through the woods with my best friend who was my dog and my constant companion. I remember taking pine cones and building signs on the ground with my sisters so my grandparents would know where we were. I remember the smells, the colors, and the cool of the forest floor against my bare feet. My happiest memories come from being surrounded by trees and learning what they had to teach me.
This past weekend, J and I were riding the motorcycle, killing time between dinner and our movie and J decided to ride up to Mt. Tabor. If you are not from Portland than you probably have no idea what I am talking about, but to bring you up to speed, Mt. Tabor is a 196-acre park in the city limits of Portland. It sits on an extinct volcanic butte and the entire thing is covered with trees. It has a variety of things to do there but one of my favorites is simply to find a quiet spot and enjoy what the forest has to say.
The temperature was much cooler under the tall trees and I felt the trees and their quiet presence wash over me. I felt myself relax against J as the wind made the tall trees creak, ever so slightly as they moved. It was incredibly quiet, even though there were a lot people in the park. I felt strong, healthier, calmer and much happier with myself. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a tree hugger, but I sure feel like they reached out to hug me.
We were not in the park for very long, but I felt cleaner and happier as we made our way to the theater. I found my peace, in the middle of the city, in the middle of summer for fifteen minutes.
Where is your peace found?