“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” —Henry David Thoreau “Walden: Or, Life in the Woods”

Even after having moved out of the hustle and bustle of Concord to his simple-living one-room cabin at bucolic Walden Pond, philosopher-author Henry David Thoreau was perennially needing to get out of the house and amble about the surrounding woods, considering “an early-morning walk . . . a blessing for the whole day.”

I’m a kindred spirit with Thoreau, enjoying walkabouts in the woods outside my Boulder Junction home, though I typically do my walking at the close of the day, which is coming earlier and earlier these days as the long, hazy and crazy days of the summer season in the North Woods inexorably give way to the shorter, cooler days of autumn. 

On my more recent walks, the early harbingers of autumn have begun to make their appearance as smatterings of yellowed birch and popple leaves and a few fiery red maple leaves fall from their lofty perches to the forest floor.

The latest generation of monarchs have made their miraculous transformation at the milkweed stand ringing the bay on Fishtrap Lake and taken flight for their ancestral wintering grounds in Mexico, the milkweed flower pods bursting forth with seeds taking their own flight closer to home.

These solitary walks are always good for clearing the mind of the day’s troubles and putting life in perspective as one tiny speck in a much larger landscape.

A feast for the senses across the four seasons, there is plenty to behold. 

Animal tracks in the winter snow. The first stirrings of green shoots and the earnest choruses of peepers in the spring. Occasional wildlife encounters as the forest comes to life after its winter hibernation. The tastes of fresh asparagus, wild blueberries and wintergreen. The solitude offered by sunsets over a small, tamarack-ringed unnamed lake, accessed off a whisper of a deer path through the woods. The colorful visual procession of wildflowers across their unique seasons — asters, harebells, wood anemones and butter-and-eggs among them. And the ongoing ages-old circle of life and death — intrepid new trees taking root as the towering elders among them fall to the forest floor, felled by age or by storm.

Walking in the woods, quietly and deliberately, offers an immersive opportunity to live in each season as it passes.

As Thoreau noted, “We need the tonic of wildness . . . We can never have enough of nature.”