Peace be with you

Published 10:52 am Saturday, December 23, 2017

by Susan and Biff Andrews

This is a Virginia Master Naturalist column, and as such we concentrate on what’s out there in nature to be seen, relished, avoided, or experienced. We avoid politics and religion — to the point where we don’t even rail against recent threats to air and water and beaches and rivers from deregulation, drilling, pipelines and power line towers. Nor do we complain about what’s happening to God’s planet and His creatures — the whales, the dolphins, the monarch butterflies, the honeybees.

In keeping with our positive approach, let this be a Christmas card of sorts… to all who may read it. The holiday season can become a fast-moving blur of activities — shopping, family visits, movies, feasts, bowl games, gift returns… even additional church services. The pace is frenetic.

This column is to say — season’s greetings… and slow down. Look at what’s around you. Take a leisurely walk in a park or along a shoreline with your family… especially kids. No devices allowed! Not sure where to go?

In Isle of Wight, there’s the big one — Windsor Castle Park — as well as Ragged Island WMA, Ft. Boykins, Mogarts’ Beach, Fort Huger or Nike Park. Walk a beach, a forest trail, but look closely at what’s around you.

For those in Suffolk, try Lonestar Lakes, Bennett’s Creek Park, Sleepy Hole Park, or the Great Dismal Swamp. Any of the Suffolk Lakes or Hoffler Creek will do as well.

West of Tidewater there are Chippokes State Park, the Blackwater River Preserve, and the Airfield 4H Center near Wakefield. There are the Piney Grove Preserve in Sussex and Big Woods — with their long-leaf pine and red-cockaded woodpeckers. Take a slow walk and spot some. No hurry.

And there are dozens more trails and protected areas. Google the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail handbook for a complete listing with specific highway directions. But don’t powerwalk. Don’t jog. As veteran newscaster Jim Kincaid used to say: amble, saunter, wander, stroll.

Do it if only as an experiment. You really might like it. The kids definitely will. Maybe you and the spouse can slip away for a couple of hours of adult time while the kids are visiting friends and neighbors. Take your parents — even grandparents. They did their courting in such places, not in theaters and video arcades.

Relax. Slow down. Celebrate God’s creations — both growing green and flying wild. Peace: that’s the goal. Peace be with you. Peace.