Walking in Peoria

There is a connection between the soul and nature. I grew up planting, harvesting, digging my hands in the soil. Now, as a middle-aged woman, I spend a lot of time walking so deep in the woods that I can’t hear the noise of the city. Nature fills me and heals me and inspires me. Nature soothes me.

Nature fills me.

Nature soothes me.

In Georgia, I walk flat land, through fields, around ponds, and along the banks of rivers. I climb through barbed wire fences and head deep into the woods. I walk through abandoned houses, but South Georgia’s landscape is different from that of Peoria’s. Here, in this part of Illinois, the flat land of cornfields will betray you. Don’t trust it for a minute. The next thing you know the fields will be far behind you, and you’ll be climbing to magnificent views overlooking the Illinois River. You’ll be ascending ancient hills where the dead of Peoria are buried.

My husband admiring the landscape

My younger sister’s name is Lynn. Nearly seven years separate us. Yesterday, Lynn took me up slopes so steep I thought I might collapse from a stroke or heart attack before I reached the top, but I had come a thousand miles from South Georgia for her to show me where she walks and meditates and captures mysterious and beautiful photos with her camera, and this southern girl was determined to make the journey, even if my sister and my husband had to drag my sweat-covered corpse from the mountaintop. Come to think of it, they wouldn’t need to worry about removing my dead body; we were in a cemetery. They could simply leave me there, in the beauty of that magnificent place of a thousand souls.

My rheumatoid arthritis joints screamed, but we kept moving, up, up, up. We didn’t take the gently sloping paths. I headed up the side of the hill, straight up, and felt the torture and the foolishness of my actions. My sister took the same hill like a mountain climber. Piece of cake. Nothing to it. Of course, she didn’t say those things; I looked at her limber movements and thought those things.

We both have Nikon cameras. Lynn has the latest version. We took photos, dirtying our knees, getting on our bellies and aiming our cameras at various angles. We laughed and hummed and walked in awe. We talked about spiritual things, about the beauty of others, about the beauty of the cemetery, and came home with a gazillion photos.

Lynn taking pictures.
The Flower Lady

Our time gallivanting lifted my spirits and reminded me of the connection between the soul and nature.

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