The therapeutic benefits of walking down a country road, sorting out thoughts and mapping out a future, surrounded by bird song and gentle breezes, have been highly underrated. Folks pay thousands of dollars nowadays to “de-stress” by engaging in costly activities such as float tanks, body massages, spas and retreats when a stroll down a country side road would offer up similar benefits. That connection with nature – listening to the natural trills of bird songs and cricket chirps, having the dust settle in your boots, a fresh wind in your face and a goal to reach the top of the third hill before sundown – can go a long way toward helping a body think and make decisions about life’s never-ending challenges.
The Second Line where we live is such a road that has served its purpose. Adult children have walked with me to the top of the hill, down the other side, past the ditch bank where an ambitious beaver or two might be swimming by, up the next hill to the apple tree and back home again. During these journeys, disclosures have been made, plans to resolve problems discussed and advice (sound or unwise, it’s not for me to judge) has been portioned out. When the world comes crashing down, it can be cathartic to see that nature still holds to a certain order; that the wind continues to blow softly through the trees, the birds still sing and life in the ditch bank goes on as it should. No charge.
When a piece of writing won’t come together for me a walk down the Second Line can be as good as a visit from the Muse. Characters find redemption, a unique setting shows itself or a plot unwinds like a spool of thread before me as I’m ambling up and downhill. The beavers busy in the ditch remind me that hard work and your best effort can win the day. The old apple tree at the top of the hill signals the steadfastness of strong roots and branches. The wind sighing through the lofty trees, up past the field entrance clears my mind and refreshes my spirit. By the time I head back home, a problem that’s been gnawing at me without resolution has often been sorted out through a meander up the side road. If I’ve walked with someone else who’s in a quandary, between the two of us, we’ve usually mapped out a strategy or resolution. At the very least, there is comfort in walking and talking, watching nature unfold around us and seeing for ourselves that the world goes on in a somewhat orderly fashion despite our individual woes. And that the country road rises and falls like the journey of life, until we get to the old apple tree.