Tag Archives: Nature

Gifts from Nature: Autumn’s Look Within, by Kevin McGrath

As I sit amongst the trees on the banks of the Chocolay River, on this summer-like autumn day, gazing at the placid lifeblood of this Greatest Lake of ours, I can’t help but realize the correlation between the trees’ evolution with nature’s flow, dropping their color and beauty to become future fertilizer and soil, their trunks and branches sending energy inward and down toward their root systems, and us humans sending our kids and students back to school.

This back-to-basics time, working on a core human feature – our brains, can be likened to the inward journey of our hardwood brethren, the aspens, tamaracks and birches, to name a few, as we potentially learn to reclaim ourselves from the inside out.

For me, as I contemplate this renewal, I ask myself, “Am I living up to my personal standards? Am I living life on my terms? Am I being the person I truly want to be?”

I have more questions than answers at this point, but as fall starts giving way to winter, my contemplation period can develop into devising a plan in early winter, so that sometime during the new year, a personal yearly manifesto is constructed and written down, enabling me to look back at it when the need is there. It’s a New Year’s resolution of sorts on how I plan on being a better person. I observe shortcomings in myself and attempt to rectify them through new actions.

For example, I never used to dance. Somewhere along the line in growing up, my perception was that real men didn’t dance. Even though it looked like a lot of fun, I avoided dancing at all cost. I was afraid of appearing vulnerable and inept, and becoming the target of jokes.

As I turned middle aged, I had an a-ha moment, realizing “Who cares what others think or say? Deep down I want to dance!” Now I dance whenever I can, and to help with my two left feet, I started taking Zumba, an exercise dance class, where to my surprise I discovered I love it, even though I’m often the only male there. I move a little more smoothly now, and it’s really helped my city league basketball game.

So as I take this time to evaluate where I am in life, like the trees focusing inward and our schoolchildren going back to learning, I look to this time of renewal to help tweak the real me into becoming the person who feels completely happy and comfortable with himself.

Kevin McGrath can be found dancing amongst the trees, tweaking the direction of his life, or as Jim Carey told Marshall University graduates, “hitting the reset button as often as it takes” to become the true him.

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Fall 2014 issue, copyright 2014, Intuitive Learning Creations.

*Did you know you can find exclusive Solar Products for the U.P. online at www.upgreen.org? Great hiking and off-grid products included!

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Gifts from Nature: Mid City Gem, by Kevin McGrath

I am torn about writing the following, as the low number of people that use the area I’m about to describe is one reason it’s such a gem.  We are often confronted with this catch-22 in the U.P., which has many treasured local spots we might hope to keep to ourselves.  This selfishness is unhealthy and far too prevalent in current society.  The Native American concept of un-ownable land makes good sense, allowing everyone to share in its abundance.

So I’m going ahead and sharing information on one of my favorite hiking and cross-country ski trails which is hidden in plain sight – the Fit Strip, a half-mile by half-mile plot of land bordering Park Cemetery.  On a first-of-spring jaunt through this easy, meandering trail winding past stunning white pines and other conifers, maples and birch, a jogger approached. He pointed and asked whether I saw the red fox grazing just fifty feet off the path.  We both stopped and enjoyed the view for a moment before this sleek critter with a white patch on the tip of its full tail slipped back into denser thicket.

The park is home to an array of four-legged foragers, including deer, skunk, raccoon, squirrel, chipmunk, and mouse.  I’m always pleasantly surprised when I venture into this woodsy park.  Nearly every year brings a new and exciting sighting. Once while traversing the soft wood chip trail, I turned a sharp corner and spotted a great horned owl a mere twenty feet away, busily devouring a chippy or mouse.  He seemed perturbed by my sudden appearance, yet determined to finish his delectable meal.  I stopped quickly and slowly backed away around the same corner so I could watch him without triggering his early departure. He turned his head toward me with an intensely fierce stare that penetrated my being, and then continued shredding the helpless rodent.

Several years ago, a six-hundred pound moose yearling wandered into this forest haven and claimed it as home.  Park Cemetery offers three beautiful ponds filled with water lilies, so this massive adolescent would sleep in the fit strip, forage, and then go to the pond to drink and feast.  At first a handful of us watched his every move. Then the crowds grew each week until finally, after several months, hundreds would await his timely arrival. This gentle giant had to navigate through the crowds three times a day, causing concern from local authorities about possible danger.

These crowds are not what I am seeking, but if you are looking for a close-to-home, nature-filled, peaceful adventure, this mid-city gem is worth the trip.  It offers entrance from every side and trails that wind gracefully through a gently sloped city forest of endless nature-watching possibilities.

To contact Kevin McGrath, see-male him hiking about enjoying the great outdoors.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Spring 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Gifts from Nature, Kevin McGrath, Marquette, Nature