If you have ever stepped into the Greenfield State Park office around 5 p.m. on a Friday night, you quickly realize that Greenfield is an extremely busy place. Often, around this time, I am tucked away in the back office watching in awe as the office staff efficiently checks-in a line of visitors that wraps out the door.
On any given weekend there are hundreds of campers strolling through the park. Biking through the campground at night, you will find almost every site roasting marshmallows, playing soft music, and enjoying the company of friends and family. In the morning, these campers are found toting their coolers and pool noodles down to Otter Lake to spend the day tanning in the sun and splashing in the water.
Spending time at Greenfield is exciting. The air is electrified with the sounds of conversations and laughs. It is easy to get swept up in all of it, because after all camping is about getting away from the outside world and spending quality time with those you love. But it is also about something else. Camping, if you let it, can also be a time where you slow down and enjoy the nature surrounding you. This doesn’t mean you have to reinvent yourself into Alexander Supertramp from “Into the Wild” , but to simply allow yourself to spend some moments of quiet.
For my blog this month, I would like to share with you a story from my time at Greenfield that occurred when I allowed myself to slowdown.
From the first week I arrived at Greenfield, both visitors and staff shared with me stories of sightings of a large snapping turtle who has affectionately been named Agnes. Agnes makes her home in Beaver Pond, a place where I spend a lot of my time doing ponding programs, and I was determined to catch a glimpse of her.
Week after week, I arrived at Beaver Pond staring into its waters, patiently waiting for her to pop up and greet me (from a safe distance of course). But she never came. I began to feel disheartened, and after a while I lost my enthusiasm for trying to find Agnes.
Then one day, I was reading a book at the edge of the pond when I heard a noise right next to me. I looked over and there was Agnes perched on the edge of the retaining wall that stands about four feet off of the ground. She then did something I never expected. She lunged over the wall, falling into a shallow stream that lies below, and landed on her back. I thought for certain she would be stuck like that forever, but Agnes had more determination than I gave her credit for. After about ten minutes of struggling, she corrected herself and began a slow 30 minute journey towards Otter Lake.
I followed her the entire trip, mesmerized with each slow, deliberate step that she took. When we arrived at the beach, many of the visitors noticed that I was watching something, and came over to take a look. Soon a crowd of close to 30 people came to watch her crawl into the lake.
As she slipped underneath the water and out of view, I wondered if Agnes had any idea what she had just accomplished. With her journey, she reminded a crowded beach and a park interpreter that if they take time to look closely enough they may just see something completely beautiful and unexpected.