A Walk of Words: Poetry in the Forest with Docent Lynn Lang

“A fallen leaf is nothing more than a summer’s wave goodbye.” –Anon

So began Adkins Arboretum docent Lynn Lang’s autumnal guided walk, which took place on Saturday, November 29th. Like many of us, Lynn finds inspiration in the forest. How better to share this inspiration than with the words of poets?

Crisscrossing the winding course of the Blockston Branch, now scattered with leaves in rich hues of scarlet, gold, and chestnut, walkers enjoyed a chance to slow down and meditate on the beauty around them. The silence was broken only for stops at various Arboretum landmarks: a slice of stream spanned by a leaf-strewn bridge, a stand of Virginia pine bristling with pinecones, a golden edge of meadow.

Rather than speak of the landmarks themselves, Lynn used the words of others to paint related images for her listeners. Quoting Eric Pinder on the Upland Path, Lynn recited in her gentle voice, “She calls it ‘stick season,’ this slow disrobing of summer, leaf by leaf, till the bores of tall trees rattle and scrape.” One walker commented that such words helped her to notice isolated things, like the freefall of a single leaf to the forest floor. Another admitted that while she usually spends lots of time looking down at the ground on forest walks, on this walk she was able to “look out and around.”

The walk ended on a light tone, with Lynn sharing a haiku by B. Cybrill:

When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves—
Welcome wool sweaters.

Margan Glover, a fellow Arboretum docent and participant in the poetry walk, enthused later, “I was so moved…that I had to go back after we finished and enjoy further the perfect leaf that was sitting on the tiniest sliver of ice, becalmed on the black water of Blockston Branch.” A poetic tribute to an inspiring day.

Docent guided walks are offered at Adkins Arboretum on Saturdays, from April to November, and are free with admission. Walks begin at the Visitor’s Center at 11am. The walks revolve around a variety of nature themes, including spring ephemerals, edible plants, summer wetlands, woodland architecture, and autumn color. The Arboretum hopes to make Lynn’s poetry walk a regular offering.

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