Find a special place outdoors that you love to visit. Choose your backyard, park, open field, stream or a hidden away slice of open space. Take your time, take a picnic, bring a journal or a book. Sit and relax for an hour or more and learn the landscape.

peaceful spot, American River, bikepathWhen you find your “peaceful spot,” here’s what to do:

  • Explore what lives there.
  • Visit in different seasons to see how the land has changed.
  • Smell the freshness in the air after a rain.
  • Listen to the music of the birds.
  • Walk barefoot in the grass.
  • Play “I spy” with your kids.
  • Watch the leaves fall and the where the shadows fall at sunset.

I ride my bike to a quiet resting spot on the bike path near my home. I look for deer, turkeys, caterpillars, butterflies and squirrels. Occasionally a coyote crosses the path. On some rides, I have dodged a harmless snake crossing the path. My favorite spot is a picnic table that sits on a ridge covered with oak trees, with a panoramic view of the river. From here I watch the wind shake the leaves on trees that have changed from green to yellow. I see leaves from a mature oak fall to the ground and a roving lizard climb the jagged bark.

River access is a short walk down the hill from the bike path. I guide my bike down to the sandbar and dip my feet in the cool water, watch the rapids rush by, see the birds fly overhead and hear Canada Geese honking. I enjoy sitting alone in my peaceful spot, listening only to the water and the occasional whizz of a cyclist or two passing by. The more you know about your special place, the more you will realize it has a life of its own and you can watch that life unfold