Walking in the Maine Woods

A few years ago, our trusted inn-keeper Greg recommended that we tour the Wells Reserve while in town for a Fall weekend. This expansive area of coastal Maine wilderness is the perfect excursion for anyone looking to land themselves in the midst of meditative nature, where you can walk in solitude for long stretches, and not run into anyone other than chipmunks and waterfowl should you wish for such contemplative quiet.

Once the forest folds in behind you, the stillness and silence sets in, and suddenly the sound of falling leaves takes on a thunderous aspect. It’s amazing how much we can hear when the noise of our normal existence dissipates, in a place where there are no cars or cel phones. The murmurings of wind through the reeds, the startled chirps of a chipmunk, the hurried scraping of a scrambling squirrel ~ each a small part in the quiet cacophony of the forest floor.

As varied as the sounds, so too do the scents offer a wide palate of olfactory experiences. The briny musk of the marshland, the sour decay of wet leaves, and the pungent spores of moss and mushrooms, punctuated by the occasional exclamation points of various, and thankfully hidden, scat all combine to create the cologne of the earth. It is the scent of life.

There are paths here, some made of wood, some made of pine needles, some made by the simple repetition of human footfalls, but each of them leading into another. Only a few times does the trail ever come to a standstill – usually at the water’s edge. You can walk a very long time, and still never get completely lost.

The toadstools bring to mind fairy flights and wanderings of woodland nymphs.

There are hints of humans as well ~ in a broken branch, a muddy footprint, an empty bench.

Mostly though, we are here alone.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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