After gathering for the now-familiar COVID safety discussion, our group of five women descended dirt steps into a lush Pacific Forest, leaving behind the sights and sounds of suburbia. Judy, our facilitator, offered suggestions for opening up our senses to the beauty and peace around us, and we walked in silence, with short breaks to share what we were experiencing.
I breathed deeply, sharing oxygen and carbon dioxide with the trees, and caressed the leaves and ferns – have you ever felt a hazelnut leaf? It is incredibly delicate and soft. I studied a twig during our time of solo meditation, with its grain and whorls. I wondered what forces had twisted it during its infancy to create those winding shapes.
I contemplated mushrooms, green fuzzy moss, and a small reddish-brown stone shaped like a heart. I only saw one piece of trash, some crumpled tin foil, which I quietly slipped into my pocket.
As our hour’s forest bath ended, we filed up the steps and back into the outside world. And one by one, women in the group pulled trash out of their pockets which they also had gathered.
I’ve heard the argument that “I don’t pick up trash because it would detract from my enjoyment of nature.” Yet these women demonstrated that we can leave the trails cleaner while still connecting deeply. And because of their actions and those of many other plikers, we all are able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
Thank you, fellow bathers, for caring for the forest.