Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

Robert Frost

It is natural to reflect on the classic Frost poem this time of year. The holidays have passed and we have had the chance to recover. Between the holiday hangover, the lack of sunlight, or – hopefully not this year – a January thaw-induced rain, keeping you off the hill, we often feel a little lost this time of year. So what to do about this?

While introverts know they need time alone, they often do not get enough. However, extroverts, such as myself, often underestimate the value of quiet reflection. This time of year, some quiet reflections can be just what the doctor – or local magazine outdoors lifestyle columnist – ordered. So what are the options to incorporate introspection? Go for a long walk, get a massage, maybe take a bath – but since this is an outdoors column, we should probably have an outdoors solution. 

My suggestion is to go on a short walk, find a place with a nice view where no one will come by, and sit.

Just sit. 

For a long time. 

30 minutes, an hour, two hours. However long you need. Don’t squeeze it in, amidst errands where you have a tight window and you have somewhere you need to be. Make time. Take time. Let your mind wander. Meditate if that is your thing, or pray if that is. For me, neither is, so I just sit and reflect. 

Think about whatever you want. Take a moment to pause and contemplate the now. The hustle and bustle of day-to-day life often leaves us missing the larger pattern of our lives, unable to see the forest for the trees, if you will. Ponder what stresses you out, what makes you happy, your job, your kids, your relationship or pull a Seinfeld and think about nothing. Contemplate what you value in your life and what you want to change.

Take in the stunning scenery of the Elk Valley, breathe our fresh air in deeply, and give your mind space in the freedom of the outdoors.

Despite all appearances, this is not the most risk-free activity. Since it is winter, and we are discussing wandering alone in the woods, where people will not stumble across you, you should take some precautions. Tell someone where you are going, stay out of avalanche terrain, go a short distance, take lots of warm clothes, and ensure that you can communicate, whether that is by staying in cell range, or taking a SPOT or inReach device.

You could wander down to the river and watch the ripples. Snowshoe in the park, then step off the trail when the mood suits you. Either way, most of us need to unplug, to put down the devices, and simplify. I know it is cold outside, but don’t let that daunt you. Bundle up, grab a blanket and set out To watch [the] woods fill up with snow.