Fall At Metahqua Nature Preserve

I called this spot “The Avenue.” The name is a nod to LM Montgomery’s famous character Anne Shirley who gave beautiful names to the beautiful places she loved. The Avenue was the name she gave to one such spot.

This heavenly place is at Metahqua Nature Preserve in Ross County. I went there Friday morning because someone told me the fall foliage around the pond atop the hill is always the most beautiful in Ross County.

And it is gorgeous but I loved this other spot more.

The light was golden, giving the foliage new life in a way that can only happen in mid October.

A hawk soared overhead as a white tailed deer sniffed the air. Both were embracing the day and living their best lives even while aging leaves released their hold on life and drifted gently to the ground.

These leaves provided a carpet of gold, brown, orange and red that crunched beneath my feet. They also provided that wonderful smell that defines fall. It really is just the smell of decomposition as those leaves break down and return to the earth but it always fills me with joy and even hope. There are better days ahead.

There is no cell service in this area so there were no interruptions save for a few squirrels as they busily darted about.

I absorbed all I could of this rare, beautiful, almost magical morning. It was fall and I wanted to soak in the sights and sounds and smells as much as my mortal body would allow. First breathing through the nose, then through the mouth so I could taste it too.

This place was more heartfelt, more beautiful and more sacred than any church. That moment was more holy than any I have experienced.

In case you wish to dawdle at this nature preserve, there are a couple of benches overlooking the pond.

Go into the woods, friends. Find a place that is quiet and almost heavenly and stand there. Allow your senses to engage in a way that simply isn’t possible other places.

You can thank me later.

Metahqua Nature Preserve

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t do justice to this incredible scene in my new happy place. It’s called Metahqua Nature Preserve and it’s part of the Ross County Park District near Chillicothe, Ohio.

At more than 230 acres of hardwood, wetland and tall grass fields in the flood plain of Little Walnut Creek, it is peaceful and beautiful. A century old one room schoolhouse has been smartly converted to a quaint caretaker’s residence.

The happy place that I refer to is a pond high atop a hill. It’s surrounded by trees which, I’m told, provide a breathtaking setting in the fall. Dusk was approaching but those trees reflected into the water a scene so serene that it was almost mesmerizing. The call of frogs and various birds made it even better.

I was there with a kindred spirit, the man responsible for a sandstone patio with two benches to sit and enjoy the view. He said that if he accomplishes nothing else in his lifetime, knowing that this place exists, because he made it happen, is enough.

I felt that to my soul as I sat there absorbed in my surroundings and enjoying the beauty of that waning day. My heart rate went down and my mind was completely calm.

I was at peace.

Spending time in nature is good for your health. Getting outdoors and moving is good for your body but sometimes I think the mental health benefits are far greater. There’s nothing better than fresh air, bird song and the peace that comes from simply existing amongst beauty.

I hope to return another time and especially would love to see that fall foliage someday. Want to learn more? Visit their website to learn the Shawnee meaning of Metahqua, learn about the wildlife, find directions and more.

An Evening At Kinnikinnick Fen

Weeknight adventures are a rare treat but Monday evening found me standing in Kinnikinnick Fen. This 154 acre wetland along Kinnikinnick Creek is located near Chillicothe, Ohio. It’s only about 30 minutes from my home but this place felt like a lifetime away from the stressful world we live in.

The Ross County Park District owns the property and has developed a few miles of trails along with a some observation decks. When driving down the nearby busy road, you have no idea that there is a truly special place just beyond the tree line.

I stood in this spot pictured above and focused on my breathing. That’s all. I just breathed while I watched the late day sun begin to slip behind the trees. A faint breeze ruffled the spring foliage as I watched two red winged blackbirds take flight.

My companion knew just when to speak and when to be silent, a true gift for some of us introverts who often struggle with our noisy world.

Being outdoors is good for your mental health. It’s good for your body to be active and to breathe fresh air. It’s good for your soul to feel small in a big world that’s made special by fields of wildflowers and the distant drumming of a woodpecker or song of a goldfinch.

The mere memory lowers my blood pressure and provides me a sense of peace. I don’t know about you, but I need more weeknight adventures just like this.

Want to visit? Learn more about the incredible work being done by the Ross County Park District by visiting their website or follow them on Facebook. Better yet, go check out one of their many trails for yourself!