Friday, November 1, 2013

Soul Food: Sometimes It's Not About Eating

Sunday morning came bright and clear with evidence that it had rained a bit overnight.  At this point we need some rain but I wouldn't mind if it only rained overnight.

I wanted to visit the Arboretum which I haven't been to in years.  Just one of those situations where you take for granted the very things that are right where you live.  Located in the midst of my city, it is owned and maintained by the Connecticut College, but more importantly it's 750 protected acres of woodlands, trails, and natural habitat.

I decided that I would walk there as I knew it was only about a mile from my house.  This walk, while definitely burning some calories, was not being taken for speed and calorie burn, but rather to get some sun on my face and enjoy the beauty of the day. It was gorgeous!

I fueled up for my walk with some Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: 1/3 cup dry oats cooked in 2/3 cups water (I do mine in the microwave at 50% power for 5 mins.)  Stir in 1/2 cup pumpkin, 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. vanilla.  Warm up for about 1 minute in the microwave then sprinkle on 2 tsp. brown sugar and add a splash of milk!

Remember the highway entrance with the pretty trees from other day?  This is just past that.  I often run and walk along here simply because the sidewalk is in really great shape!

See the two types of berries here?  So many berries, it's like the trees are making bird food for the winter.

I have no idea what this is but I thought it was really cool looking.

I turned the corner and saw a movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was a group of wild turkeys - gobble gobble!

This giant tree was fascinating.  You know why...?

 It's actually a holly bush! Here's a closeup.

Almost there.  This is Harkness Chapel on the college campus.  This is the same college that did the Oreo cookie study.

Here we are!  It was exactly 1.15 miles from the end of my street to the entrance of the Arboretum.

Lots of folks had the same idea as I did.  And it turned out there was actually a formal walking tour being given by the Arboretum director.

When you go in there are several signs with rules and also a stand with a brochure that has a self-guided tour.  The reason you can't jog or bike is because it packs the dirt down in such a way that it changes the conditions of the soil and therefore what will and will not grow.

When you get in, this is the main path that leads down to the beautiful pond.  Isn't it gorgeous?  Of course students come here for peace and quiet and sometimes even to study.

I started walking this way straight to the pond first as I really had no idea where I was going.

These grapevine stands are on either side of a small platform.  This area is considered the outdoor theater area and we have a local group who usually does a limited run of a Shakespeare play here in the summer.

Once in this area there are a half dozen choices of paths and trails to follow so I just picked one and went with it.  The terrain changed from gravel trail to a leaf covered path in the midst of the forest.

Occasionally you see a tree or bush with markings and there are lots of places with small benches where you can stop and take in the beauty.

I came upon this building as I was walking and when I got home did some research to find out it's Buck Lodge. In 1932, the parents of Frances Buck gave her a $2,000 graduation gift as a reward for not smoking. She donated the money to the College to create the first Outdoor Theater, and her father was so pleased that he gave more funds to build and maintain the lodge for future students. It is used for college events.

As I walked back towards the entrance, I saw a path that looked interesting so I decided to see where it went.  Suddenly I came upon this!

It was a door to the Wildflower Garden!  I couldn't resist going in though I knew there wouldn't be anything in there now (note to self: MUST return in spring/summer).  The area itself was very neat and by staying on the path I came to a door on the other side, with a wooden walkway.  I felt like I was on such an adventure.

I followed the walkway and came upon a clearing with a display of plants and seating in the round right close to the pond!

Amongst some of the plants I found this really cool looking cactus thing.  I didn't even know we could grow cactus in Connecticut.

I walked back by the pond and back out to the road and home.  When I got to the bottom of my street, I'd managed to walk 4 miles total.  But so much more than the walk, sometimes these types of things are meant to feed the mind and soul and the exercise is just a bonus.


  1. Love this brand of soul food. Amen.

  2. Quite wonderful. We really do take for granted the beauty that is all around us!

  3. I can't believe that arboretum is so close to your house! What a gorgeous place. Love those gates - the irony of being able to walk around them makes opening them and stepping through all the more magical.

    You should document each season there (I think Kristen did that at the botanical gardens in her neck of the woods) - would make for a fascinating retrospective.

    1. That's a great idea Shelley! I am looking forward to going back in the spring to see the wildflowers, for sure. Not so sure about winter...

  4. I am with Shelley - I can't believe its so close! But then again, I don't take advantage of the hiking trails that are near my house either - I haven't been on them since we took our dog Ed on them, and that's been a couple years.

    You've convinced me that this weekend I need to get back to the trails - I know it will be good for my soul too!

  5. I love walks like that! It really does boost the spirit as well as burn some calories. We are going hiking Saturday and I hope the leaves are colorful like the ones you photographed!

  6. That place sounds tailor made for me! I wonder if it is wooded enough to see lady slippers in the spring.

    1. I would say yes, especially down by the pond. I'm excited to go back in the spring now!

  7. I am also amazed by the cactus. We want to plant one of those, but have been putting off the 100 plus mile round trip to the desert nursery. We had them all around us in Tucson on what I thought would be public land and I almost picked some of the fruit. Lucky for me, I checked online and found out they are protected and you can only pick them if they are on your property. Otherwise, if caught or reported, you will pay a fine. :(

  8. My goodness, you live in a beautiful place in this world. I always love it when my blogger friends take me on their walks. Thanks!

    this is how I feel so often as well and always surmised it was because Im not a foodie.

  10. I have a friend who loves pics of doors. She would love to pin that door pic! All the pics are awesome!