On Saturday I went on a long-anticipated hike. Most of the summer, one of my favorite hikes has been closed while the Greenbelt Land Trust worked on forest restoration. They promised, “An opened viewshed, outstanding legacy oak trees, and vibrant riparian areas.” The intent was to return the forest to its historic state, as an oak savannah. Over the years, the conifers had overrun the oaks.
I was a little worried. After a few months of hearing wood chippers in the distance, would my favorite place even exist? What was it going to look like? I headed out on the trail with some anxiety.
What I discovered was a mix of completely unchanged trail, followed by surprising views to the south. It was a stark contrast entering the areas which had undergone forest restoration. The ground cover was gone and the forest dramatically thinned. There was light and openness where there hadn’t been in the past. You could see the shape of the old oaks; see how they had struggled higher and higher for light in the dense forest.
My emotions on the hike alternated between sad and exhilerated. The forest I had known was becoming something different. I felt a loss of the old while being energized by the new.
Part way through the hike I realized this experience was analogous to any change in life. Sometimes old things, things we have loved and cherished, need to end to make space for new things to grow. This can happen at the pace of nature or can be sped up, nurtured in a new direction, as in the case with this forest or in the case of intentional personal work.
The feeling of loss with change is natural. With that loss, it’s also important to look at the possibility that comes with the new. For this forest, it’s enjoying the increased sunshine, the views, and the sight of those lovely oaks against the sky which makes the loss of the old bearable.
I look forward to seeing what this forest will become, now that space has been made for different things to grow.
And I think of my own personal landscape and wonder: Are there places I need to clear out some old stuff, allowing the space and sunshine for new things to take root?
You can download the Stackables Formula I created for these images, named “Mulkey Ridge” after the hike.
Follow these instructions:
1. Make sure the Stackables app is installed on your iOS device.
2. On your iOS device, download the formula file from this link. (This is a Dropbox link, and you may be prompted to save the file to your Dropbox account, if you have one. Go ahead and save it to your Dropbox and then download from there.)
3. When you go to download or open the file, use “Open in…” and choose the “Open in Stackables” option.
4. Stackables will open and ask if you want to import the formula, click “Import.”
5. To use the formula, load a photo and then go to Favorite Formulas (the ones with a heart!). You will see the imported formula there.
Have fun! I’d love to see what you do with it.