Finally, warmer weather is here! Well, sort of, but at least there have been more warmer days than cooler days in the past few weeks. Caesar and I have been dying to hit the trails again, and in the past two weeks, we’ve been able to do that quite a bit. I love being in nature; if I had the means, I’d follow Henry David Thoreau’s lead and leave civilization behind to go live in a cabin in the woods by a lake.

On Thursday, Caesar and I joined my dad and his rescue Border Collie, Lion-O, on a walk in Kreager Park in Fort Wayne. This was the first time that I had been to this particular park, and unfortunately, it was a bit rainy out during our walk, so some of the trail was too muddy to cross, but in the heavily wooded areas that followed the Maumee River, I knew for sure that spring was here.

The river was flowing with honking geese and cardinals were singing their lovely songs. In the distance, I could hear a woodpecker drilling a new home in a tree. The grass has begun to green, and little buds have started to appear on some of the trees. Thursday’s soft rain was actually pretty soothing, and since it was 50 degrees, it wasn’t too cold for a nice 4.5-mile walk.

I love taking Caesar on these types of trips; he is always interesting to watch when I take him somewhere new, and he gets to smell all the new places. In the distance we heard a train and when he hears a noise like that his German Shepard ears shoot straight up into the sky and he stops, trying to determine which direction the odd noise is coming from.

In this particular park, I saw more cardinals and blue jays than I’ve ever seen. I feel like I’m seeing more of these types of birds than I did growing up. As a kid, I only recall seeing a blue jay once, and I was mesmerized by it. Now, it seems they are everywhere. Because of all of Caesar and I’s walks last year, I got good at learning a few bird noises. This year, I hope to learn even more. I’d also like to get better at identifying trees.

It’s odd, stuff like this didn’t matter to me a few years ago. I had no desire to go outside or to walk miles upon miles with my dog. I was recently reflecting on how much people’s mindset changes in their 20s. They say the brain doesn’t stop developing until you’re 25, and when I look back, I can tell a definite shift in my likes, dislikes, and how I began to react to situations after I turned 25.

Being alone, being in nature, and going on long walks with my dogs were all things I began to enjoy near my mid-20s. There is also a very obvious difference in how I reacted to people who tried to get me worked up when I was in my early 20s compared to how I react to it now. These days, I often find that silence is the best response to people who upset me.

When I am feeling very stressed, like I currently am as the semester comes to an end and final papers and exams draw near, I find solace in the woods with my dog. There is something healing about being in nature and taking in all of the sounds and smells associated with being in the woods.

While I enjoy walking with just Caesar, he and I both enjoy it, even more, when my dad and Lion-O join us. Walking in nature has become a great bonding tool for me and the people, and dogs, in my life. It often gives us a chance to talk without any distractions. I also enjoy having someone else around to help point out pretty birds.

I’m hoping the cool spring days continue so that we have plenty of nice walking days before it gets too hot out. I enjoy being out this time of year to see life breathed back into all things that appear to be dead. It’s a refreshing reminder that no matter what life throws at you, you can come back just as brilliant as before.