Sense of Wonder: Night Walk

Last Saturday I went on the first  of a few "Sense of Wonder Night Walks" with the OVF. The only words that I can use to describe this experience are incredible, eye-opening and refreshing. We met just after sunset at the Clay Head Trail opening. There were about 14 in the group, not including Kim and myself.

As a kaleidoscope of colors filled the sky, Kim began to introduce the theme of the walk. She was inspired by a Rachel Carson mediation in which Carson observes the curiosity and natural excitement of her nephew with the world around him. Carson's nephew's "sense of wonder" was something that she came to admire. Kim, in an attempt to rekindle her own, as well as to encourage others to evolve their "sense of wonder",  developed this walk. Since it is conducted at dusk or later, one looses their sense of sight in an attempt to utilize the other senses.

As soon as we stepped foot onto the trail I began to notice the difference in feeling from the compacted sand ground of the parking lot and the supple grass of the trail. The feeling of the air changed as well as we approached a canopy. The air became cooler, damper; as if we were in a rainforest. This part of the trail also allowed for some great sounds, not only did I become aware of the stomping sound my foot made as my boot made contact with the earth, but I also noticed the faint bellowing of the ferry.

We soon rounded the corner and found our way out of the canopy and into an area of low beach grasses and shrubs. We were on the backside of a dune. By this time my nose was filled by the gorgeous aroma of the crisp ocean. My feet began to sink into the sandy soil. My ears took note of the rhythmic sounds of the crashing waves and rolling stones associated with the ocean's currents. We crested the dune. Right in front of me stood the most beautiful moon I have ever seen. Its huge golden glow against the vibrant magenta of the sky was truly breathtaking. I tried to fumble with my phone to capture the moment, but no picture that I took could do it justice.

 Moonrise looking onto ocean at end of Clay Head trail.

Moonrise looking onto ocean at end of Clay Head trail.

At this point, Kim had arranged a special treat for us - a beach fire. A few group members and I built a fire pit and subsequently a fire, as the other group members ventured on to see what they could discover. This fire added a whole new dimension to the senses on the beach, from its warm glow, to its consistent crackle, my "sense of wonder" was at its peak.

Walkers Helena and DK (left) and Kaleigh and David (center) enjoying the lovely beach fire.

I stood in front of the fire for about 10 minutes, taking it all in. By that time it was time for us to extinguish the fire and make the return trek to the parking lot. Although this leg of the journey was a bit quicker and not as surprising, it still came with a set of interesting occurrences. For starters, the fireflies were out in numbers. Sparkles littered the brush on either side of the trail as a result of these fascinating creatures. My favorite part of the entire experience was when I  crested the highest hill on the trail. I took a quick glance over my shoulder expecting to see a few walkers behind me with flashlights, but what I saw, I will never forget.  I saw the most beautiful landscape. The moon's reflection danced on the waves in the background, fireflies dotted the shrubs in the mid ground, the deep blue silhouettes of the small trees in the foreground was too much beauty for me to take in all at once. I stopped -- dead in my tracks. I stood there for what seemed to be a couple of hours, but in reality was about thirty seconds. Again, I attempted to take a photo with no luck.

 Moon overlooking Clay Head Trail

Moon overlooking Clay Head Trail

It was at this point where I knew I had located my own "sense of wonder." When the world froze and my head began to silence, only searching for the next external que. A smell? A taste? A feeling? A sound? What did the future hold? What was out there? It was this perpetual cycle of unsatisfied curiosity that Carson was speaking about. So, I challenge you to venture out and cultivate your own childish "Sense of Wonder." You never know what you may unveil.