It was a beautiful weekend morning and we decided to head over to Avalon Park in Stony Brook, figuring we could get in a walk before I had to go to work. Well, I would have had enough time if we didn’t stop frequently in order to become fully aware of the gifts nature had to offer.
I’m not sure why we haven’t visited Avalon that often. Perhaps with our hectic lives and limited time, we felt compelled to plan “serious” hikes or walks rather than meander through a place that would force us to immerse ourselves in the natural world. Avalon was designed as a magical place where the hectic, frenzied lifestyle could be left behind, replaced by an area for contemplation and sanctuary. In fact, there was so much to observe at Avalon, since it is actually divided into two areas (the park and a preserve), that I may have to leave the preserve portion for another post.
Our first episode of contemplation occurred right after we parked in front of the grist mill. We stood for several minutes just admiring the spillway and the stream beyond. I discerned some avian activity down the stream near the tall grass but they were too distant for an adequate offspring count.
We finally crossed the street towards the pond and entered the park. The boardwalk path led to a bridge where we stopped to listen and observe all the resident birds of the area. Cormorants were flying back and forth bearing twigs for nest building, a pair of swans came close to the bridge proudly showing off their new baby, turtles were resting on a half submerged log and a half dozen downy ducklings were trailing their mother. Blackbirds, robins, catbirds and a downy woodpecker were flitting about. I could never hope to get adequate photos with my little point and shoot camera, so I would recommend viewing some of the pictures taken by Joekayaker
As we walked away from the pond and up a set of stone steps, we found ourselves immersed in a green wonderland. The air was filled with the sweet scent of honeysuckle. Throughout the park there were areas where large granite blocks had been set for the wanderer to stop and rest. I am sure these “benches” were deliberately set in locations where the traveler would have a desire to spend some time filling up on the sights and sounds of nature.
We wandered around trails surrounded by honeysuckles and wild raspberries. We would turn and cross over two small ponds, the one just big enough for the pair of ducks who had found this quiet corner of the park. And finally, we came to the ultimate place for contemplation, a labyrinth set in the middle of the park section of Avalon. We let the frantic pace of our lives slip away, before continuing on the path towards Avalon and East Farm Preserves.