Something To Look Forward To

something-to-look-forward-to-594x800Have you ever been in a rut? You know what I mean, those times when you realize that all you’ve been doing is living life on autopilot, just going through the motions of everyday life. You wake up, go to work, come home tired, eat, fall into bed, and repeat that, day after day, with very little variation in the routine.

That’s where I found myself a couple months ago–deep in a rut. I’d realized that I had nothing coming up on my calendar that I could look forward to, nothing that I was excited about, nothing that represented a change from my routine. Life was so boring.

So I decided that I would make an effort to plan more activities that would put a spark back into my life, like visiting new places, meeting new people, and doing things I’ve never done before.

One evening I was standing in the kitchen and I impulsively wrote this note on my refrigerator: “Something to look forward to…”  And having that message on my fridge where I see it every day has motivated me to start making plans. The biggest and most exciting of these plans is my upcoming birding trip to Costa Rica with a friend, but while I anxiously await that one, I’ve been doing some more exploring of places closer to home.

staircase-in-woods-looking-down-594x800One of the places I discovered recently is Steyer Nature Preserve, a great park along the Sandusky River near Tiffin, Ohio. It consists of 141 acres with four miles of trails that wind around wildflower meadows and crisscross steep ravines. I’ve written before about how I enjoy places with even the slightest elevation changes, something that’s rather rare in northwest Ohio’s farm country.

This park is part of the Seneca County Park District, and they’ve done a really nice job of building bridges and staircases to facilitate access to the trails through the steep ravines. And they’ve included lots of interpretive signs as well, identifying various tree species and giving background on the history of the land.


I learned names of some trees that I’d never heard of before, like  hophornbeam and pignut hickory. And there are two trees on this property that are nearly 300 years old.


I sat on the bench near this Bur Oak for quite some time, contemplating some of the events it had survived in its 292 years. How often do you get the chance to touch something that has been alive for centuries? And yes, I’ll admit that I hugged this amazing tree. And then I photographed this Eastern Comma butterfly that had paused to rest on its trunk:

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

I found this huge spiderweb in the woods — it was probably 18 inches across. Did you know that the design of a spiderweb can give you hints as to the type of spider that made it? This one is typical of those constructed by members of the orbweaver family.


bridge-and-stairs-at-steyer-nature-preserve-800x594As I walked toward that old Bur Oak on my way back to the car, a Bald Eagle flew out of the top of it. He’d probably been surveying the river below for fish. I watched him fly across the cow pasture and land near another Baldie on the far side.


The Sandusky River at Steyer Nature Preserve
This frog jumped into the water as I approached the river — he thinks I can’t see him.

I’m so glad I got myself motivated to go out for that walk. Discovering this wonderful spot definitely helped lift me out of my rut, giving me motivation to keep looking for more new places to explore close to home!


  1. That looks like a peaceful park so imagine you will go there often! The birds are so pretty. All the steps are good exercise for you too! xo


    • Thanks, Judy, glad you liked it. I just went back to Steyer today and walked for more than an hour in the brisk, cold wind. It was so refreshing! And there was lots of bird activity too — big flocks of chickadees, kinglets, and Cedar Waxwings. We should go there together sometime.


  2. You know, I have probably hiked to the Washita River dozens of times since we’ve lived here and I never get bored with it. Everything changes from season to season and I find myself completely in the moment. I love that you do also… photographing what you see along the way, noting your perspective of new discovery.
    I wish more people could take the initiative to find inner calm in nature. I think children should have exposure to the gifts of what it offers. I grew up playing outdoors, discovering so many species – oddities and amazing creatures, weather, beautiful landscape, and sound. It is a complete immersion of the senses to take a hike. I am glad you found your way out of the rut and shared this lovely spot with us! By the way, we have planted many Bur Oaks here, specifically for the huge white acorns for deer to feast on. It is our legacy to support wildlife here, hopefully for many decades after we’re gone.


    • Lori, I just love that you’ve planted Bur Oaks for the deer of the future. And I often think of you and your writing when I’m out on these walks in the woods. You inspire me. I hope one day we’ll be able to take a walk together — I think that would be a very special experience.


      • We will walk together… it’s meant to be. It’s funny… when I see birds or a species I haven’t see before I think of you too! I know so much more about birding and identifying them thanks to you!


  3. Getting out into the wild always helps! It’s the perfect escape from the crazy world.
    Oboy! Costa Rica! Have a great time and see lots of birdies!


  4. Thank you for the reminder that life, a good life, takes effort. It’s so nice to read about beauty and peaceful things. Everyone is so angry or afraid all the time.


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