On the first Wednesday in May, Bernheim launched a new early morning guided hike. We started the stroll at 7:30 a.m., which is already mid-morning for early, so really not all that early.
I had never been in Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest at that hour. I have to say, it was just as pleasant as I had anticipated it would be, as I am truly an early morning appreciator. What you find in the forest on an early morning stroll is peace, a sense of wellbeing, and wonder, curiosity, and camaraderie.
Fellow Volunteer Naturalist, Ray Schaaf and I led an easy- going hike along the Bent Twig Trail with a wonderful group of visitors. We enjoyed the company of a couple from Mississippi and their regional host from Nashville. It was pretty special knowing the Nashville resident thought Bernheim was a destination to visit with his guests. It was truly an honor to introduce them to our beautiful Bernheim. And Bernheim clearly impressed.
This particular walk was appealing to this group of early birds. The pace was just right for individuals who wanted a slower walk and relatively easy terrain to navigate.
We were all like-minded individuals who enjoyed silent moments among pleasant conversation on a gentle trek. We entered the Bent Twig Trail at the Traverse Divine art installation, which gave us an opportunity to explore art in nature and nature in art. Justin Roberts’ willow sculpture serves as an ecological and sustainable front door to the Bent Twig Trail and the new Meditation Trail along Bent Twig. We took advantage of one of the meditation platforms along the trail and breathed deeply while meditating on the clean forest air we are fortunate to breathe.
We were nourished with words of gratitude from Braiding Sweet Grass for the gifts that nature provides us in the forms of earth, air, plants, water, trees, food, and wildlife. The author, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes of the indigenous practice of addressing nature gratefully by giving thanks to the natural world.
We cultivated our senses in this natural environment which heightened awareness of our surroundings and brought back memories of times spent outdoors in our youths. We identified trees and plants and shared tales from their lore and compared our landscape to that found in the deep south. We were lucky enough to observe a white slant-winged moth resting on a mayapple flower. This mysterious creature has a relationship to the mayapple bloom that is not understood by entomologists.
At the walk’s conclusion, it was apparent we all felt invigorated by nature’s energy and beauty, and we reluctantly parted ways. I believe we all felt immense gratitude to Mother Nature for her gift of a beautiful morning walk in the woods.
What better way to start the day? We will be offering these Mellow Morning Strolls on the first Wednesday of each month. Register online to join us in the upcoming months.
-Volunteer Naturalist Kat Panther