Changing Seasons

I’ve opened my windows to the call of  birds who return this time every year. They are talking to each other and sound just as excited as I am for the change in season. I couldn’t name any of the birds I hear by their call, but I revel in the beautiful melody of their songs.  After living in New England for eleven years now, my body shifts with the waxing and waning of daylight. My ears have adjusted to the sounds that arrive and depart as the melting snow gives way to the fertile soil below, awakening from her slumber. Even the trees appear to stretch their branches from their yearly slumber. Small hints of pine indicate what we all know, Spring is on her way. 

I am a child of the south, a daughter of the Crescent City. When I was a little girl, in the rare event that it would snow, it was quite an event. Never enough to plow, let alone build a snowman and gone before the days end. But it always was a wonder. In New Orleans’ subtropical climate, we would get something like winter, but never what the Northeast has. Being a child who spent most of my time out in the thick of the humid New Orleans air, I never knew what it was to long for Spring.  It was always outside my front door awaiting me. But now that I live in New England,  I have had eleven years, forty-four seasons to take notice. To pine for warm air and count down the days until I can pack up our winter wears, open all the windows and let the first breezes of spring in. 

Copyright 2021. Gabrilla Ballard.

Day 25: SOunds of the woods

This evening I went for a walk alone in the woods. Well, technically I wasn’t alone, I was surrounded by life. The hundred maybe even thousands of trees, if you count the baby trees who are just a decade or so old. But as for human kin, there was only me. I love the woods. I usually either go with my kids or a friend. As a result, I’m used to my kids filling up the space with their shrieks and laughter. My son lets loose the most outrageous animal sounds stating “THIS (being loud and wild) is what the woods are for!” He’s on to something. 

But today, I myself was very quiet. I usually never have earbuds in. For me the whole point of going to the woods is to unplug. After about five minutes walking along the trail,  I realized the forest isn’t really quiet at all. There are sounds everywhere. The wind moving the trees’ leaves against each other. The sound of falling acorns. The cracking twigs and decomposing leaves beneath my feet. The chirping of birds. The scurry of squirrels and chipmunks. The brook beside the path creating a soundtrack for a section of my walk.  And the sounds of my footsteps moving me through it all. 

Below, I’ve shared some sounds I gathered from the woods today. Enjoy!

Sounds of the Brook.
My footsteps and then ambient sound.

Day 8: 20 lessons from getting lost

I went for a hike today with the intention of going for about an hour and for no more than a mile or so. I got lost and hiked from one side of the mountain to the other. This massive detour took me almost 3 hours and totaled approximately 7 miles.  Some people might think this was impressive. I’m just glad I made it out. I’m thankful for my strong and healthy body for carrying me, for the woman who drove me to the other side of the mountain to get my car and the state police for unlocking the gate and letting me out.

In the beginning of being lost, I wrote down some of the things that may have helped me prior to my journey . I’ll be sure to check this list next time before I head out. 

1. Follow the marker others have left behind

2. Remember where you started 

3. Don’t be afraid (or ashamed) to ask for help

4. Turn back if you need to (you may have to)

5. Ask questions 

6. Make friends along the way

7. Orient yourself 

8. Make sure you know where you are and where you’re going

9. Rest

10. Don’t panic

11. Be prepared for detours 

12. Get out of your head and into your surroundings

13. Pay attention

14. Know your coordinates when you start out

15. Give yourself enough time to get lost (if it happens)

16. Drink water 

17. Bring a snack

18. If you have time, take a break 

19. Use your problem solving skills 

20. Learn to read a trail map

My legs hurt. I’m gonna go and soak in a hot tub. More tomorrow.

Reflecting on 2018

Around this time each year, I notice I find myself yearning to be outdoors. I love being outside in general, but I think it might be because the days are shorter and I am spending more time indoors at my internship. It’s also much more comfortable outside. Although it’s cold here in New England, I find I’d rather layer up against the cold than have to deal with mosquitos, ticks and pollen.

That being said, as the year comes to a close, here’s a photographic look back at some of my time in nature, both alone and with my kids.




2018 was centered on my healing and recovery. Recovering my health, recovering my energy and reconnecting with some of the things that brings me joy.