Walking: earth at three miles per hour

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 12:00pm

“All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.” – Hal Borland
“Let’s take a walk”, or, “I’m going for a walk”: these two oft-said phrases are not about a mode of transportation, or about getting from point A to point B. Usually, taking a walk is not about the destination. We walk to explore, or to get exercise, or to clear our minds, to meditate, or, to slow our pace so that we can notice details in the landscape – both the environmental landscape which we traverse through, and the inner landscape of our minds.
Block Island is an ideal place to walk. With approximately 23 miles of open space trails, and a variety of substrates – grassy path, sandy beach, hilly shrublands, stony shorelines – a lovely, and interesting walk can be found to meet the needs of all amblers.
To walk is to see the world at three miles-per-hour. And while doing so, you may see a turtle laying eggs, catch sight of a damsel fly perched on a stem of grass, witness a mini school of alewives leaping dolphin-style out of the water, or discern the delicate fragrance of the common milkweed. Nighttime at a walker’s pace allows you to observe the flicker of a firefly, or the flutter of a moth. And, dawn is when one can see dew droplets highlighting spider webs and hanging precariously on blades of grass.
Most walks, where you have set out to “take the air,” result in unexpected discoveries. Whether it is a shed snakeskin that you find, or the realization that you should pursue an unrecognized ambition, walks can be a catalyst for metamorphosis, and they can instigate new perspectives and new inquiries of all types.
This summer The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has added three new walks to its weekly schedule. Like all TNC walks, these are walks of discovery. The leading naturalist will offer moments of identification and explanation. But it will be you, the walker, who will be sparked by insight, and spurred to question what is special about the place and time that you are in at that moment.
H. D. Thoreau wrote “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” What could be greater than an early-morning walk on Block Island? And, if you want to learn a bit more about the area being traversed, consider going along on a TNC-led walk.
New at TNC this year:

The Trail Less Traveled, Mondays at 8 a.m.  Each week explore different conservation areas – less traveled trails – with a local naturalist and learn about the area’s unique mini-environment and its relation to the island’s ecosystem.
Skippers & Skipjacks, Tuesdays at 10 a.m. This short walk is great for families, and anyone who wants to understand and experience the meadow-to-marsh habitat that can be found surrounding the Great Salt Pond. (Hint: Skippers are insects, and skipjacks are fish.)
Exploration of the Wild West Beach, Fridays at 8 a.m. Discover what makes this beautiful, rocky, dynamic shoreline, the perfect place to witness the interface between man and nature.