Everything is hard. It just is. We've only been doing "this" for about six weeks, but it feels like an eternity. Everything has changed, and we are forging an existence that is so foreign. To be honest, I don't feel like I'm doing it very well most of the time. Yet, I try to continue to look for moments of peace, and lately that has been outside. 

Every weekend, my family makes it a point to visit one of the natural areas in our vicinity. Some of these places we've been before and we are visiting them with a new sense of their importance, others are new explorations. 

Twice now we've been out to Allerton Park, exploring a side of it we'd previously not paid much attention to. We've been to events at the Mansion, stayed overnight in the guest house, admired the gardens and sculptures, sent the kids to 4-H camp, but really hadn't paid much attention to the extensive trails on the other side of the park until those were our only option (now the gardens are open to the public again). Visiting these trails that begin at the Lost Garden parking lot about three weeks apart enabled us to really see Spring in action. 

We first visited in early April and hiked the Green Trail; it was a chilly day and many branches were still bare, but there were still some bluebells and mayapples to be found.

A trail that is lined by tall, thin, bare trees. The trail has a grassy strip in the center, and is covered in dead leaves. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure.
A close up of a fallen tree trunk. It is covered with layers of a type of gray fungus. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure.
A close of up a bluebell flower. In the background is a field of them, lined by a row of bare trees. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure.
A dozen or so mayapples; green plants that are low to the ground and have leaves that make them look like umbrellas. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure.
A gray stone slab in the middle of a grassy field. A trail lined with trees stretches out beyond it. Photo by Julie McClure.The entrance to what use to be The Lost Garden. Photo by Julie McClure.

We returned this past weekend, beginning our hike in a slight drizzle that soon cleared to bright sunshine. Thankfully the drizzle seemed to keep folks away, as we saw maybe two other people. Isn't it strange how much that figures into our experiences right now? In just a few weeks time the seasonal changes were striking. We did the Blue Trail this time.

A grassy and muddy trail that is lined with tall thin trees with budding leaves. There are two people walking in the distance. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure.
A small tree covered in white blossoms. It's surrounded by greenery around the base. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure.
A close up of a small purplish pink flower. It is surrounded by green leaves. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure. 
Several tall, thin trees are sticking out of a swollen river, with a steep bank in the foreground. Photo by Julie McClure. Photo by Julie McClure.
A log is carved into the shape of a block Photo by Julie McClure. 
Top photo by Julie McClure.