“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
I didn’t really go seeking anything when I set out in Moccasin Lake Park in Clearwater, to kill some time. The weather, which has been startlingly cold for Florida, had turned mild and pleasant. The light, just after noon, was spectacular and everything seemed lit from within – glowing with color.
Usually verdant trees had gone gold and orange and set against the brilliant, cloudless blue sky, the effect was stunning. Let the Appalachians have their autumn leaves. A January Florida forest is just as beautiful, as red maples and stately cypress shoot their colors skyward. Birds flitted among the leaf litter and magnificent canopies of ancient gnarled oaks.
Although I wasn’t looking for anything, as Muir observed, you get much more than you seek when you walk with nature. You get the tonic of wildness, that calming draught that soothes mind and soul and helps one reconnect with the point of it all, with what it really means to be alive, whatever the everyday garbage of living might suggest to the contrary.
That’s a lot for a little urban park in Clearwater, hemmed in by jam-packed highways and dense residential neighborhoods, to accomplish. And a remarkable tribute to the wonders made possible by the simple act of preserving a bit of greenery and some running water.
Here’s to our parks and preserves! Go take a hike!