I watch a cardinal flit over my head and off into the treetops. I was kind of hoping it would hold still long enough for me to sketch it, but there is no lack of beautiful things to draw here. I am in the College Woods with my notebook, enjoying the cool fall weather. The trees are ablaze with color and the smell in the air brings back many good memories.
When my family moved here, I was only two months old. We came so that my dad, Dr. Ross, could be a professor at Maryville College, and I have loved growing up here with the Smokies at my doorstep. I have always loved nature, and the College Woods are one of my favorite places to go when I want a breath of fresh air. There is always a new place to explore or an old place to visit, and I have experienced so many things there. I’ve helped clear out invasive species with Dr. Crain and have done the ropes course innumerable times. I’ve studied the trees with my biology class and sketched the squirrels and birds that live in them. Sometimes, when I’m having an off day, a simple, 15-minute walk in the Woods can cheer me up. I certainly recommend that you try it sometime!
Speaking of walks in the woods, I’ve learned they’re very beneficial. Walking can lower your blood pressure and give you higher levels of healthy cholesterol. It prevents health problems later in life, is a natural stress reliever and provides regular, but not exhausting, exercise. Better yet, being outside releases serotonin, your body’s mood stabilizer. Sunlight also increases your Vitamin D intake. Honestly, I find it hard not to feel better after being in the woods. A walk a day keeps the stress away, I suppose.
Can you see why I love the MC Woods so much now? It is a wonderful corner of creation, and I love every second I spend in it. Fall is a season for thankfulness, and I am so grateful for the beauty of the Woods. If you’re ever feeling down, I suggest going outside and looking around. As Martin Luther King Jr. wisely said, “For in the true nature of things…Every green tree is more precious than if it were made of silver and gold.”