May 26

Carve Out Time – Squantum Woods Discovered

Last Tuesday, I headed out of the house to take a quick stroll before finishing up preparations to leave for work. I did not have much time left before leaving for my 12 noon starting shift. I really wanted to take some exercise regardless and headed out the door in the opposite direction of my usual routes in the neighborhood.

That cramped schedule ended up leading to a delightful discovery. I walked towards Veteran’s Memorial Parkway, a roadway alongside a bike path, a short distance from my house. Since cars go zooming by on the Parkway, I don’t typically think of walking towards and beyond that road.

Today, however, I found myself coming out to the parkway from a street that showed a little park with picnic tables, grills, etc. directly on the other side. I glanced at my watch and decided that I had enough time to go exploring.

A little brook with a wooden bridge over it beckoned and a small pond past that had an abundance of frogs inside it. Just past the pond, a trail led into some woods and off I went. I wondered if this woods eventually led to the East Bay Bike Path since I sometimes walked in the woods adjacent to that path.

I came upon another little stream with a log over it for crossing and just then a woman and her two cute dogs came from that direction. I asked her about this woods and she said she thought it was Squantum Woods State Park along with some of the Exxon Mobil woods land that they have near where the ships unload oil.

Satisfied to know what I had discovered, I turned back for home and a mere fifteen minutes later was back at my house to shower and dress for work.

I marveled to find somewhere new to explore so close to my house, in a short window of time carved out before going in on a late shift day of work. I also felt a little embarrassed that I have lived here for 10 1/2 years and never noticed Squantum Woods before. It served as an important reminder that beauty and divinity are often right under our nose. We only have to open our hearts to see it and remember that with a spirit of intention we can always carve out time for what we value.

Here is a poem I wrote recently for Panorama, an anthology of poetry written by students of Sri Chinmoy. Its theme resonates with my experience of carving out time to walk that morning and find something new.


Carve out time
from the Sun’s
fleeting face.
Carve your place
at the table
of grace.
Carve a map
your spiritual
life can trace.
in your heart’s
deep embrace.


I went back to Squantum Woods with a camera on my next day off of work a few days later. I measured that it is a mere half mile from my house and I did follow it out to the bike path. It comes out near the Squantum Association Private Club and offers a view from the opposite side of a small cove that I have photographed a gazillion times from the opposite side. Here is a slideshow of a few of the photos I took at Squantum Woods:

Sep 21

Night Ramblings: Do You See What I See?

Nightime Moon on RI Bike Path
Nightime Moon on RI Bike Path
With the Fall Equinox only 2 days away, I shouldn’t be surprised that my habit of taking a daily constitutional (a.k.a walk) at around 7 pm would mean that the sun sets and darkness rises before I finish. Today’s warm summer-like day inspired me to journey on the bike path along the water located only a short distance from my house. Since the sun was setting even as I headed out, I left my camera at home – quite uncharacteristic for me since I love to take photos of nature and birds along this well-worn route, this shot of the moon over the path being one of them.

After staring for a while rather wistfully at the half moon as I walked, the darkness slowly enveloped me and led my thoughts to wander to a recent reference question at work. The patron (a.k.a customer) wanted books on visual and auditory learning. Once I determined that our library catalog used the subject heading “cognitive styles” to tag this subject, I unfortunately determined that we did not have any books particular to that topic. My colleague with more years of reference under his belt than myself took over mid-stream but we did not end up meeting her wish to walk out the door with books related to this topic. I wondered what type of learner I was – visual or auditory and this dusk to darkness transition seemed a metaphor for the visual to auditory shift.

As nighttime caused my visual sense to recede, I spontaneously turned my evening walk into a symphony of sounds. Like a child discovering her environment with newness and awe, I concentrated fiercely to see what sounds surrounded me. It was an eye-opening — or should I say ear-opening — experience to notice just how often I am focused on the visual when I walk on the bike path with all its stimuli of flowers, swans, clouds, marshes and water. Soon my focus swam instead in the chorus of crickets, the cry of a seagull, the wind rustling in the trees around me and the lapping of the waves against the river and marsh banks on each side of me. The shipyard on the other side of the Providence River added the noises of human civilization with its punctuated addition of cargo contents loading and unloading off of large ships. I decided that the auditory sense tends to get neglected when our surroundings offer charming visual feasts. The musicality of the sounds around me seemed just as worthy of attention and the darkness of night provided a shortcut to that particular destination.

The true test will be my vantage point during a daytime walk along the path. On a glorious fall day with a gentle breeze, the tactile sense may crowd in as well when that breeze glides into my heart. Have you ever tried to determine your learning style? Are you a visual, auditory or tactile learner? You might try my experiment and walk through a favorite environment during both day and night and see wherein you find the greatest charm.

One last note – it only seemed fitting that I should write this post while listening to music. I picked another theme song of sorts for this girl on a road. I hit repeat on Itunes and wrote with the song Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit) from the Ancient Muse CD on playback loop. Loreena McKennitt, another Canadian vocalist genius lyricist and singer, writes/sings:

The road now leads onward
As far as can be
Winding lanes
And hedgerows in threes
By purple mountains
Round every bend
All roads lead to you
There is no journey’s end.