Where It’s At ... this winter

Posted:  Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 10:00am

With the holidays behind us and a new year ahead of us, why not come down from that “holiday rush” by spending some time outdoors?

Yes, you will have to put on some layers with these arctic-like temperatures, so bundle up and take a walk in the woods. Snowshoes or cross country skis optional. There’s something about being in a wood in winter … snow crunching under your boots, the occasional call of a winter bird, squirrels or chipmunks chattering and moving in tree branches above you; and if you’re really lucky, spying a deer.

The still, sleeping trees of oak, maple, birch, and poplar (among others), and the sentinel evergreens of white and red pine; the stillness of the wood invites us to, as did Whitman, “loaf and invite our souls.” In a wood, there’s no need to “practice” Zen; woods and forest are among what I call the Zen zones; outdoor spaces and places where our cares and worries melt away and we are free to breathe in the beauty around us. Places where we are truly in the moment; places that remind us that we and nature are one.

The Boothbay region is rich in Zen zones from the Boothbay Region Land Trust preserves to Ocean Point. Visit www.bbrlt.org for more information on the preserves rated easy, moderate and challenging.

Out on Southport Island Dogfish Head Beach has a serenity all its own this time of year. And the majesty of Ocean Point is breathtaking no matter the season. Can you say Zen zone?

Out Jefferson way, Hidden Valley Nature Center (HVNC), at 131 Egypt Rd., offers full moon hikes, bring your own snowshoes, or borrow a pair of the Center’s. This month there are two full moons, the second, the blue moon, is on Jan. 31. Everyone meets at the gate for the 2.5 mile-trek to the pond for the full moon rising. For more information, visit www.midcoastconservancy.org

Also at HVNC on Saturdays, Jan. 6 through Feb. 10, a six-session youth cross country ski clinic is happening for kids ages 5-14, 9:30-11 a.m. Registration is online at HVNC’s website. Andy Bezon can answer any questions; give him a ring at 207-389-5156.

Over Wiscasset-Westport way, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) is planning a big premiere of the Squam Creek Preserve during the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend in early February. Merrymeeting Fields in Woolwich offers 125 acres of mixed forest and is great for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Bring binoculars for birdwatching! For directions, and information on KELT’s other preserves, visit http://kennebecestuary.org

Experience the wonder of nature this winter – alone, with your kids or grandkids … and don’t forget your beloved pupsters (who may need to be bundled as well) – outside … and within.