National Kids To Parks Day Offers A Perfect Chance To Enjoy Our State Parks

Published 3:55 pm Thursday, May 17, 2012

You don't have to climb every mountain.

Yes, Julie Andrews' vocal ability makes her advice in The Sound Of Music hard to resist.

Nor must you search high and low.

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No need to follow every byway.

Or every path that you know.

Fording every stream is not required.

Following every rainbow is not a condition.

Following the road to Bear Creek Lake State Park will do.

Or Twin Lakes.

Sailor's Creek Battlefield.

James River State Park.

Holliday Lake.

And High Bridge Trail State Park.

We are surrounded by state parks, as we have noted before. Turnout by area folks on New Years Day to join in the National “First Day Hike” observance, starting the year off right with exercise, fresh air and natural beauty-those things that feed our soul-shows how many people know it, too. The resounding use of High Bridge Trail State Park, especially since the opening of High Bridge, demonstrates it, as well.

This Saturday, May 19, would be a perfect time to take your family to one of our state parks; it's National Kids to Parks Day and there are specific events being held especially for this celebration.

There will be a Story Hike at Twin Lakes State Park from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. So go hike through a story. Find a new page the further you hike.

Or you can earn your Junior Ranger badge or patch at Sailors Creek Battlefield State Park from 1-5 p.m.. There will be a Civil War musket drill and simple tactics and you can learn about the three battles that took place at Sailor's Creek.

Bear Creek Lake State Park will feature beginner level programs, such as fishing, plus nature discovery programs, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

James River State Park will host a junior fishing expedition, with kids taught the basics and provided with fishing poles and worms, also from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

High Bridge Trail State Park will have activities from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with the park's AmeriCorps volunteer bringing a travel trunk chocked full of replica artifacts from the Civil War and youngsters will be able to put on clothes from the Civil War period and play games that were enjoyed by both armies, and civilians, as well.

Holliday Lake State Park will celebrate from 3-5 p.m. by taking children on a nature walk, a short hike with discussions on anything of interest seen along the way.

As close as these state parks are in Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward, you can enjoy the activities at more than one of these state parks.

But there is more than one day in the year and our good fortune to be so close to so many state parks is a blessing to be embraced as often as possible. Every season has its beauties and wonders. Even winter, which has its own colors and textures, sights and sounds. And winter's angle of the sun paints everything differently, as well.

Within a single day, in fact, and often inside the 60 minutes of just one hour, a line of trees along the riverbank, or reflecting in the lake, swaying, too, beside the meadow will look differently as passing clouds focus, hide and reveal the ever-moving sun.

Shade, shadows and sunlight dance together in the rhythm of the day.

The morning's walk looks nothing like the mid-day hike and late afternoon's footsteps are even better because the colors run so much deeper as evening makes its approach, bearing night behind it.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Visit our state parks often. Your physical health, mental health, your spirit and your soul will rise and shine so much higher if you do.

Because, I must admit, Julie Andrews is literally and figuratively correct.

The hills are alive.

There are does, a deer, a female deer.

And rays of golden sun.

The meadows are vibrant with life, too. And the woods. The riverbanks. The fields.

And not just with the sound of music provided by scores of birdsong. Rivers and streams ripple over rocks. The wind whistles through trees and gently shakes the meadow grass, like soft maracas or velvet castanets.

And the sound of our own breath smiling to the beat of our stronger heart.