Pennsylvania forests have a special place in my heart. I was lucky enough to not realize just how much of an impact my backyard woods were having on me when I was a kid. I say this because, if I knew just how big of an impression they’d leave, I’m sure I would have fought it - damn you, stubborn adolescence!
I didn’t know just how critical the countless hours of unsupervised, unstructured play along creek beds and wooded lots as a kid were to my future self. I didn’t know what the result of days exploring river corridors and forgotten forest paths would mean to the woman I am today.
I didn’t know the very places I thought I was just “playing” in to pass the time would become the places that would shape my adult life and every aspect of who I am and what I do as an individual, as a professional, and as a mother.
We learn hard lessons in these forests; what our minds and bodies can endure...patience, perseverance. We also learn about who we were, are and want to be in them. It may be intentional, or not, but the undeniable fact is that the trails, waterways and vistas within Pennsylvania’s wild spaces are powerful.
They impact us in ways we never anticipated. And this time of year, as the forest’s pace slows, I find myself reflecting on my life and the space around me. Whether I’m carrying a fly rod, pedaling a bike, or attempting to coax my children a quarter mile further.
Winter explorations are a special experience in this place. The air is fresh and crisp, the forest floor and river banks crunch underfoot in a new and different way and the reliable stillness is a welcome contrast to our wild, uncertain days. So, if you haven’t done so yet, grab a map, pick a spot and explore somewhere new (or familiar!) this season!
Photo Essay: by Ryan Michelle Scavo, Outdoorswoman & Adventure Mama. Instagram: @Ryoutside
copyright Purple Lizard Maps 2020