by Carolyn Trower

According to the internet dictionary a jaunt is a “a short excursion or journey for pleasure.”
My husband loved taking jaunts and when I had the good sense to go with him, it was always worthwhile. Sometimes there was a destination, sometimes not. We covered ten miles or hundreds and attended every little festival in the area. We explored cemeteries and old houses; gravel roads that turned into dirt paths; country schoolhouses and lonely churches. He always had a story or some historical facts that connected to the area and there was always time to stop and enjoy the scenery.
I still go off on jaunts. Last week I set out with the intention of finding a farmer combining so I could get a picture for the Farm Page. I didn’t find a combine, but I found some new roads. I turned off one of the county roads and continued to turn right or left as the mood struck me. I ended up on some gravel roads I didn’t know and after traversing a low water crossing found a blacktop.
Not far down the road I knew I was on EE so I turned off at St. Paul’s lane. The church stood out in picture perfect clarity on this bright sunny day. I focused my camera on the small white cross atop the bell tower and recalled the story of one parishioner who said it was “at least a one-pint job” to paint it. The church is nestled in an open area surrounded by fields and woods. I was amused, but not surprised, to see goldenrod growing next to the dying cone flowers against the far side of the church. I checked flowers on family graves and paused to talk to a few others before heading back on the road.
Next stop was the Visitor Center, it’s always good for a few pictures. I walked through the trees to the overlook near the playground. The area is sheltered by oaks and acorns crunched beneath my feet as I walked. One lone boat drifted on the calm water and I thought how peaceful it must be to sit there with the wind and water, gazing at the surrounding woods. I felt a deep calm and marveled how Nature has a way of soothing our stress. I relished the beauty of a late summer sky and the fact that I was still in my Birkenstocks.
My peaceful reflection was distracted by a young father who was walking his toddler son to the overlook. Their progress was slow as the little boy stopped often to bend down, pick something up, and hold it up so his father could see. A few murmured words and he put the twig or rock down and repeated the pattern until they reached the overlook.
How long has it been since any of us grown-ups really took our time and looked at the things around us? Taking my boys on walks was one of my favorite things. Their tiny strides dictated the pace and the only speed was slow – slow enough to notice every leaf, rock, acorn, and flower, whatever Mother Nature had strewn in our path that day. “What’s this?” and “Why?” opened my mind as much as theirs.
A child’s curiosity is boundless. Adults should remember that and try to emulate their wonder and excitement at the simple joys in our life. Jaunts aren’t always in a car, sometimes they’re on a sidewalk, or in a library – anywhere your mind is opened to wonder and possibility.