It was a beautiful day today with snow and ice melting, water rushing in the gutters, geese squawking as they flew overhead, songbirds singing, and the smell of spring in the air. While I know it’s still February and winter is far from over in Wisconsin, it signaled that hope of spring and the promise of new beginnings.
For me, hiking in nature is an essential activity to stay connected to the universe, the animal world, and my own humanity. I hike in the winter once in a while, but far more in the spring, summer, and fall. But last year, just as spring was arriving in March, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with colon cancer and several days later had surgery to remove part of my colon and to put in a temporary ileostomy. I was out of work and out of energy for months and later in the year had a minor surgery to have the ileostomy removed.
The recovery has progressed well, but the ordeal kept me from getting out into the woods except for a few shorter hikes, and that left me feeling unfulfilled in so many ways. I need that connection with our natural world to be more human. Especially as a person living in a city, it is easy to lose contact with who you are without that. It is easy to lose contact with our own elemental nature. I believe we were designed to be connected with nature and for me it is an emotional need that springs from my core.
So today, walking outside even for a short jaunt and hearing sounds, smelling scents, and seeing grassy lawns that disappear during our bleak winters here reminded me that although we will have more snow and more cold before it is over, we are on the road toward a new season. This year, though I am still out of shape from being bedridden, I will welcome those glorious walks in the woods to meet so many living things in so many varieties and colors, from insects to wildflowers to mammals that cross my path as I explore their worlds with them. I will not only be fully recovered from the cancer, but more fully human again.