Part of why I love hiking is the chance to be almost meditative at times as I stumble along on a trail. There are always stretches where the hikers in a group get separated and the only sounds I hear for a time might be from some far-off river or the wind or a bird (or a treefrog, etc.). I’m not as reflective as I could be, but I do lots of yoga and spend a zillion hours lost in thought on cross-country airplanes. Which is why this event listed below merging nature and quiet introspection seemed fairly interesting.

Of course, when I asked a friend if she wanted to go, she laughed at me. I can take it. Still, real men meditate, right?

Sponsored by LandPaths, here’s what it’s about. The descriptions below are all from LandPaths. See their Web site for other events and more info.

“Respite From Holiday Busyness Meditative Morning”

Saturday, December 19, 2009 – 9:30 – 11:30am

Many of us are so busy before the holidays that we forget that nature surrounds us night and day. For those interested in a respite from the busyness, come join us for a morning of exploration at Ranchero Mark West. We will gather for opening and closing circles to allow for a simple introduction and reflection on our experiences and have 40 minutes of silent alone time on the land in our own “sit spot”.

LandPaths staff Autumn Summers and wilderness rites of passage guide Sara Harris will support the group with nature awareness exercises that will help us to slow our pace, heighten our “deep listening and seeing” skills and encourage us to rememeber who and where we actually are, in the present moment, as Thoreau suggests : Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.

Children are welcome if they are able to be quiet for 30- 40 minutes. Otherwise you and your family are welcome to join us for the afternoon gathering.

Ranchero Mark West is located on Mark West Creek, North West of Santa Rosa off of Calistoga Road. Directions sent with reservations.

You are welcome to stay for the afternoon Holiday Gathering. If you are joining us for the afternoon please let us know in your reservation.

To Request Space(s): There is no cost and reservations are required for these outings. To request space(s), visit LandPaths’ online calendar. You can also send an email to outings@LandPaths.org. If space is available, we will confirm your request and send more details including meeting location and directions. While you’re on the website, check out LandPaths’ other outings and volunteer events.

Holiday Gathering at Ranchero Mark West

Wreathmaking, kids activities, creek walk and more!

Saturday, December 19, 2009 – noon – 4pm

Kids ages 1 to 93 are invited to join in on the seasonal fun at this 120-acre forest property protected by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District on the northeastern edge of Santa Rosa.

We will begin with BYO lunch around the campfire and then there will be a short walk (1 mile round trip) and tour along beautiful Mark West Creek with the option of a longer hike with owner/forester Jim Doerksen, followed by music, hot cider, wreathmaking. Kids activities include stringing popcorn, looking for critters along the creek and nature exploration, and making a bird seed pine cone.

To Request Space(s): There is no cost and reservations are required for these outings. To request space(s), visit LandPaths’ online calendar. You can also send an email to outings@LandPaths.org. If space is available, we will confirm your request and send more details including meeting location and directions. While you’re on the website, check out LandPaths’ other outings and volunteer events.

The District protects land in Sonoma County and LandPaths connects you with that land. This outing is made possible though a partnership between the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and one of its non-profit partners LandPaths. It is sponsored by the voters of Sonoma County who funded the District’s work with a quarter-cent sales tax, and is coordinated & guided by LandPaths.