Nature Hikes through Middletown Park & Rec

Spring Nature Walk

Wednesday, April 16
11:00 a.m., no charge, Wadsworth State Park, Middlefield, CT; Dress for the weather. Educational walk on the trails of Wadsworth State Park. Children under age 16 must attend with an adult 18+. Register through Park and Rec (Please use 2014 Spring Nature Walk Registration Form)

Questions? email Beth@HealingNatureCT.coom

Healing Nature WATER 06.21.12 004Healing Nature Sessions

Thursdays, May 1,8,15,& 22
6:30-8:00 PM
Ron McCutcheon Park, Crystal Lake, Middletown, CT

In this program, we will use our senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world. You will be introduced to several techniques to help you relax and let go of your daily stress. In addition, we will use our creative outlets such as writing, drawing, music/sound, and movement, to express our experiences and address weekly environmental topics. Come explore what nature can do for you and what you can give back!

Email Beth@HealingNatureCT.com for more information.

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Route 81 loop 002On Monday, Cherry and I continued our Haddam trails visits with a hike at what is called Route 81 loop. We found the trailhead on the north side of Beaver Brook Road, west of the junction with Route 9, and began our hike around 8:45AM. It was cool and gray as we crossed a gently flowing stream and wandered through dense vegetation. The trail was initially distinct and we had a map. Keep to the left, we decided, in order to avoid inadvertently leaving the main trail and ending up at one of the other parking areas.

 Cherry talked about nearing retirement and all the activities she’d been pursuing. Between church variety shows and a Master Gardener trip to the Cloisters, symphony performances and trying to clean out her files, she had been quite busy. She affirmed that this was the right decision for her and we laughed about how the timing evolved.

Route 81 loop 003

We found a live oak peppered with pileated woodpecker holes and trekked through large laurel thickets. We had surprise eye delights of swamp pink and lady’s slippers along the way. Cherry said she’d decided not to travel to Buenos Aires, but would be joining a church group to the Holy Land in February. She would have plenty of time to renew her passport and have something to look forward to all winter.

Route 81 loop 007We crossed several small streams cascading over bedrock. With newly emerged leaves, the mixture of colors and patterns, combined with bird calls, the trail was enticing. I managed to discover yet another tick imbedded in me (that made three over the past 24 hours) and another crawling on me. I talked about progress with my city project to convert an old school to a senior center and the improved health of the 90 year old woman I assist (after a fall and stint at the hospital, she was now at the rehab center).

The area was delightful, showing little sign of overuse. However, in a few sections, more bright green trail markings would have been useful, and perhaps a sign indicating the direction of the side trail to parking. After about two hours, we’d returned to the car parked on Beaver Meadow Road, completing a 2.7 mile loop. True confessions? We stopped by a local shop in Higganum to grab a snack, sit at an outside table, relax together, and schedule our next trip.

Haddam Reservoir 04.29.13 001Cherry and I were ready to start hiking again! This time, we decided to focus on trails in Haddam, her hometown. We used www.haddamtrails.org as our guide.

It turns out there were thirteen trails in town, of which we’d already hiked one as part of the Mattabessett Trail. There also were three in Cockaponset and we’d tried some of that already. So, today, we started with Higganum Reservoir Trail. A round-trip of about a mile and a half, we knew it wouldn’t take long.

It was a cloudy day with temperatures in the fifties, which made for a perfect hike. At 8:30, we parked at the north end of the reservoir to look at the spillway, comprised of large brownstone slabs. We then meandered through a nearby cemetery to reach Hull Avenue and locate the trailhead. We talked about Cherry’s upcoming retirement and issues related to continuation of her programs once she was gone. She also shared about a potential trip she might take to Buenos Aires in January, which sounded quite exciting.

We were disappointed that the trail was so far from the reservoir, so we bushwhacked down to it and tried to follow along. We did get a few nice views of the waterway, while we talked about the current state of my writing. I talked about an in-progress short story and challenges in completing it by Thursday and Cherry was encouraging about its plot line.

Haddam Reservoir 04.29.13 002 Seeing no clear way to continue along the reservoir, we returned to the trail and encountered two women walking three barking dogs. We were glad to move past them and find the source of the reservoir, a lovely stream flowing over rock outcrops. Reaching the other trailhead, we backtracked, staying on the official trail. Cherry asked about my recent trip to Stockholm and Denmark and I told her about the various foods and sights we’d seen. By then, we had returned to our parked car.

 Since it was still early, we decided to hike along the railroad tracks along the river in the center of town. Not an official trail, it crossed Higganum Cove (a superfund site containing PCBs, municipal solid waste, and asbestos.) before reaching the river. Being very low tide, we were able to explore the small beach before hiking north along the tracks. After a half hour, we turned and retraced our steps and returned to our cars at 11:30AM.

 Cherry hadn’t been to either of these areas, so we had a nice introduction to Haddam’s trails. To top it off, we decided to lunch at Mamma Roux’s on chili and gumbo. Cherry suggested a plan for future adventures that included selecting a Connecticut town and spending the day exploring trails, shops, and museums, and sampling a restaurant. I didn’t hesitate to agree. We’ll pick our first town after retirement at the end of June. Meanwhile, we’ll head back to Haddam in May to sample another trail or two.

373295_103539949768314_781491031_nI’m taking on the A to Z Challenge again this year — Please check it out and follow: A to Z Blog Challenge: Animal Spirit Guides for a Good Life.

On Saturday, I visited the Smith College Bulb Show in Northampton, MA. I stopped at the door, absolutely stunned and shocked by the vibrancy of the colors. I hadn’t realized how little my eye cones had been working all winter! Here are some of the beauties ~

Smith College Bulb Show 009

Smith College Bulb Show 007

Smith College Bulb Show 008

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Smith College Bulb Show 004

Smith College Bulb Show 001

Smith College Bulb Show 002

Healing Nature WATER 06.21.12 004Are you ready for winter to be over?! Feeling a bit of Spring Fever? Sign up for my ecotherapy class being offered with Middletown (CT) Parks and Recreation Department again this year. Here’s the information and a 2013 HN Registration Form.
HEALING NATURE

Dates: June 7, 14, 21, and 28   CORRECT DATES: Thursday, May 9, 16, 23, and 30 (four meetings)

Times: 6:30 – 8 pm

Location: Camp Building, Ron McCutcheon Park at Crystal Lake

Fee: $65

Instructor Name: Beth Lapin (Beth@HealingNatureCT.com)

Ages: 18+

Description: In this program, we will use our senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world. You will be introduced to several techniques to help you relax and let go of your daily stress. In addition, we will use our creative outlets such as writing, drawing, music/sound, and movement, to express our experiences and address weekly environmental topics. Come explore what nature can do for you and what you can give back!

Feel free to email me with any questions. Think Spring!

The Secret GardenI was riding the train to NYC, when I decided to reread The Secret Garden, which my (adult) daughter had downloaded onto my Kindle. I vaguely remembered the simple plot, written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and thought it would be entertaining.

 To be honest, I started in a grumpy frame of mind. We’d had some difficult times over the past few months, spurred by the Newtown shootings and several snowstorms, including one that dumped almost three feet of snow at my house,  took me days to shovel out, and left water dripping on the inside of my porch from clogged gutters. So I was perfectly matched with character Mary’s initial sour looks and nasty mood. By the time I was nearing NYC and halfway through, I had followed her to the secret garden, put my hands in the soil, heard the robin sing, met interesting friends, and was immensely cheered. On the reverse trip home, I finished and sat back to say, “Ecotherapy at its finest!”

 For truly that’s the gist of the story. Get out in the fresh air; it will do you wonders, it will heal your physical and emotional wounds, and will bring you great joy! I highly recommend it, available as a free download from Amazon.