Upon arriving at the Uplands Center in late-June to serve as one of the Environmental Interns, I was blown away by the beauty and serenity of this land. I had previously scoured the website’s photo gallery, giving me a glimpse into this reality, but pictures simply couldn’t compare to the natural beauty I found myself immersed in. Over the past ten weeks, I have explored much of this rich landscape, discovering gems along the way. Here are some of my favorites…
Throughout my first several days here, I recall hearing mention of a mystical ‘cherry grove’ on the property. I didn’t know what to expect, but once I visited, I understood what everyone was talking about. A short walk from the main house lives this beautiful open stand of mature Black Cherry trees. The surrounding grasses are kept short, allowing visitors to wander around or sit and contemplate life comfortably. There were several evenings this summer when I felt overwhelmed or anxious and found myself drawn to the Cherry Grove, seeking peace and guidance. In the presence of these old, wise trees, peace and guidance I found.
On evenings that I wanted to get outside and soak up that golden hour glory, I often found myself hanging out in the hay field. With a blanket spread beneath me, I enjoyed the beauty and stillness as the sun set, appreciating the various pastel colors painting the sky. I befriended several deer who frequently browsed in the field at dusk, at times even serenading them with my singing. My voice is mediocre but apparently it intrigued the deer who paused their browsing to inch their way closer to me.
Throughout the summer we helped catalog the property’s diverse flora and fauna across various plots of land. The lovely creek that flows through the lower end of the Uplands’ property fell inside one of our plots. While access to the creek is limited to visitors who enjoy the challenge of navigating an unmarked forest, the Uplands team hopes to develop a trail in that area someday soon! I felt soothed by the sounds of water babbling over smooth rocks during my morning there. Earlier this year, I started completing little ‘water blessings’ whenever I encounter bodies of water that feel sacred to me. I simply dip my finger into the water, close my eyes, and place the water on my forehead and then my heart. I thank the water and attune to its frequency. This practice has helped get me through the chaos of 2020, as it reminds me to flow with whatever life offers me. Between identifying and measuring trees in our plot, I took a moment to complete one of these water blessings.
A brief walk uphill of the center, you can find this simplistic yet chic shed with breathtaking views of the surrounding fields and rolling hills. You can spend your time basking in the sun on the deck or cozying up on the couch inside. This summer, I did my fair share of both. One evening I found myself caught in a rainstorm as I drove a golf cart up the hill to the vista shed, scurrying inside to take cover. I brought my journal, some snacks, and a feel-good book and enjoyed some refreshing self-care time for a few hours as the weather oscillated between relaxing showers and calm clear skies. Other days, I have enjoyed picnicking on the deck with music streaming from my speaker. Needless to say, I will certainly be returning to stay in the vista shed (and visit my supervisors-turned-friends) in the near future!
If you’re interested in experiencing these gems for yourself, don’t hesitate to contact to the Uplands team to coordinate your group retreat!