Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New look at a familiar place

Last Friday over lunch, I XC skied the Ashmun Creek Natural Area
(http://www.lssu.edu/biology/AshCrkDescription.php), one of my favorite local places for local adventure. It’s fun because in a few minutes you can get ‘back in the wood.’ The fact that the trail is ‘self groomed’ and not known to a lot of people adds to the adventure. While hiking, or cross country skiing or snowshoeing through the area, my mind can wander and I get, well, what seem like good ideas at the time (some of which do actually turn out to be useful ideas). I take my ecology classes back there as do some of my colleagues for their bio classes.

From campus, the convenient trail head is just to the west. From that trail head, one follows the snowmobile trail through the trail tunnel under the freeway, then climbs one large hill, descends into Ashmun Creek valley, then climbs another large hill out of the valley to begin the actual nature trail, which runs counterclockwise. But last Friday my errands about town made it more convenient to enter the trail from the south, follow the very straight and flat snowmobile trail and do the loop clockwise. I also took a shortcut through the woods from the snowmobile trail to the nature trail, so I entered the nature trail at a different point that I usually would. Just that little change gave the area an entirely different feel. What were uphills became downhills to learn to negotiate and vice versa. Scenes to the left were now on the right. It may sound trivial, but it really did look different.

So your assignment is to go to a favorite place, but do the trail loop in the opposite direction from what you customarily do or enter from a different trail head or somehow look at it from a slightly different perspective. Maybe it will add to your appreciation.

NB: Here’s one of the thoughts I had last Friday. You can see if it was just one of those that sounded good at the time. While thinking of new perspectives, it occurred to me that maybe we could help eliminate the partisan grid lock in Congress by encouraging our legislators to go to their special unique spots and think (or maybe it’s go to your Naughty Spot?). Not to sound all ‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington,’ but imagine that instead of legislators crossing their arms, pulling an angry face and waiting for two years until the fickle electorate swings their way, legislators cleared their mind by visiting their or their constituents’ special unique places. Could it lead to across-the-aisle collaborations? A bit idealistic perhaps, but have they tried it? Isn’t all politics local? Couldn’t contemplating the special and unique features of the place they are supposed to represent help legislatures think through the partisan bickering?

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