This past December and early January my family met at the Morton Arboretum for a Covid safe hike. We met in Mother Nature’s family room where we didn’t have to worry about how many of us could hangout without adding air purifiers. It was a peaceful blessedly happy respite for all of us, three generations from 3 different parts of our family.

The Spruce Plot

We hiked the path through The Spruce Plot each time we met.

The Morton Arboretum has so many different gardens to explore. You can drive through naturalized groves or park and hike the paths through them. The Spruce Plot, where I took these photos, is spectacular. Morton Arboretum’s website describes it as “The quiet mystery of the spruce plot at The Morton Arboretum will make you feel as if you were hiking in the forests of Norway and Romania. Do you feel a temperature difference as you enter? The spruce plot creates a cool, dark environment unlike anything else at the Arboretum. Look towards the sky to see the impressive height of these trees.”

Here is the view from our car

Hiking the woods in the middle of winter has it’s own unique pleasures, and hiking The Spruce Plot brings it all home. The stillness you experience walking through the majestic trees is broken occasionally by the creaking sound the trees make as they sway in the wind. It sounds to me like they’re talking to each other, maybe to us as well, welcoming us as guests in their home. The sound inside is softened, the air still. You’re protected from the wind in the winter and the heat in the summer. You are surrounded by the trunks as the green needles grow mainly up top, reaching for the sun, creating a picture of familial strength, with the tree trunks standing tall right next to each other.

Every view at the Arboretum is beautiful, but the winter brings with it a serenity. The stillness creates a different experience. The colors are subdued, and there are no flowers competing for your attention. The quiet beauty creates space for a mindful experience. You may notice the structure of the trees, like a cool gnarled or peeling trunk, artfully twisted branches, or the odd leaf still clinging to a branch. A grey winter day can be more colorful if you can spend it with the trees.

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