So my latest big project – other than engrossing myself with the ongoing soap opera that is the U.S. Presidential election – is clearing out about 1/2 acre of vines, dead branches and other eyesores in order to carve a simple nature trail through a mini-forest. My wife thinks I’m crazy, that I could be better served patching the driveway or painting – things that most people will notice.
But this deforestation, as I call it, has proven to be therapeutic for me. I tackle one small area filled with thorns, sweating and wincing as they pierce my gloves, and after an hour, I have defeated it. It looks cleaner, maintained even, while still retaining the rustic feel.
You might think that I prefer the solitude, just me and nature, as I become one with my environment. But no. Like any teenager trouncing through downtown Atlanta, I’m listening to music, tuning out the world around me. I’m out there with my pruning shears, gloves and my iPod.
The hours that I spend alone in the woods are a good time to be by myself, but I can’t stand the quiet. It gives me too much time to think. It sounds sad, but I would much prefer spending time with my music, listening to the loads of albums that I have yet to plow through, making playlists to fit my mood, and reflecting on what I hear.
The other day the album of choice was Hideaway, the new release by the Weepies. The Weepies are an indie-pop duo (one guy, one girl) who play pleasant, somewhat quirky music similar to Belle & Sebastian, She & Him – insert boy-girl duo here. It’s tough to find a forest cleanup playlist, or music to pull briars to, but my choice seemed fitting that day. It was innocuous music that didn’t make me think and didn’t make me skip songs that I didn’t like. It just allowed me to reflect and ultimately relax.
And that’s how I spend my time outdoors. Thoreau would freak.