Nature walks are one of the very best ways to heal the soul. The next time you feel a little off-kilter, try a stroll through your backyard, your neighborhood or a local garden. Nature has the power to reach into your heart and pull you directly into the present moment, which will help you to find focus and peace. When we are present in the moment, we are better equipped to find excellent solutions to whatever issues caused us to lose our metaphorical balance in the first place.
As many of you are aware, my husband and I have taken to the trails for health and overall strengthening of our aging physiques. Walking in nature helps to lower blood pressure, strengthen muscles, improve physical balance and gets us out of our heads. We began to challenge ourselves weekly with one new hiking site per week. Long Island has so many wonderful places to explore.
While hiking with my daughter several years ago, we found a half-buried glass bottle along the trail. Once I managed to completely unearth it, I found that it belonged to Sessler Beverages of Glenwood Landing, NY. That old “Nassau Dry” bottle was embossed and most likely was manufactured in the 1930s. We also found a small, delicately etched “nip bottle,” though we were unable to figure out its manufacturer. Finding antiques on the trails is part of the fun of exploring.
This past week, Hubby and I decided to try a different trail. We prefer trails less traveled to soothe our souls with the silence that only walking in the forest can bring. One such trail up in Oyster Bay, known as Tiffany Creek, was quite difficult to find. Our Waze app kept telling us that “you have arrived at your destination,” yet there was no visible trailhead. We finally found the parking lot after about 20 minutes of driving in circles.
The road leading to the parking lot is rather long and in poor repair. It is important to drive slowly to avoid potholes, but also to avoid snakes, chipmunks and deer that may be walking on the less-traveled road. Conservation easements and private property surround the preserve, which was acquired by Nassau County in 1992 from the John M. Schiff family with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy. The North Shore Land Alliance is steward to 14 acres of meadow in the preserve.
As we walked the trails, we could still hear vehicles from both Berry Hill Road and Sandy Hill Road. However, those traffic noises were quickly drowned out by the chirp of chipmunks, the chatter of blue jays in the treetops, and the soft sounds of the red-bellied woodpeckers as they alternated between drumming on the trees and the churr-churr-churr of their mating call. We came across an old shed, a small pond filled with gray tree frogs and beautiful orange mushroom formations that hugged fallen trees in their bittersweet embrace.
Hubby was engrossed in the act of collecting pinecones for Christmas wreaths. As I went to join him, I tripped over something in the dirt. It was another bottle, but it was much larger than the one I found in Muttontown with my daughter.
As Hubby continued his search, I squatted down in the brush and began to dig at the bottle, which was wedged in the ground quite nicely. Roots grew inside and around the bottle, so I realized I was in for a bit of a workout. I channeled my inner Thor (spoiler alert for the upcoming movie) and pulled on the glass for all I was worth. I was promptly rewarded with the sound of a “pop” as the bottle was unearthed, completely intact.
As I joined my husband, I saw something move in the trees nearby. I had just been thinking of our daughter, and how thrilled she would be with my find. We stopped stock-still and waited as we watched a doe and her fawn very tentatively step out onto the path. It was one of those moments where if you reached for your camera, you would miss it. It was breathtaking.
After the doe and her fawn leaped away, I glanced down at the dirt-encrusted bottle in my hand. An embossed marking at the bottom of the glass revealed that it had been manufactured in New York City. I couldn’t make out the logo clearly, but it looked like a lion on its hind legs with a beer barrel beside it.
Later that evening, I attempted to wash the bottle. After several trips through the dishwasher, I found that the bottle hailed from Lion Brewing Company, whose humble beginnings dated back to the 1850s and ended in 1941. The logo on the bottle began to appear in 1890 until 1941. Lion Brewery, which occupied six square city blocks throughout Manhattan’s Upper West Side, offered Bock Beer, Pilsner, Extra Lager, Sparkling Ale, Dark Beer, Wurzburger, Vat Beer, Light Beer and a few that were named “Gotham.” In 1941, the Lion Branch of the Greater New York Brewery closed its doors forever. The brewery was auctioned off in 1943 and the plant was demolished the following year.
While I don’t always find something to dig up on my hikes, I do find something of value on every single one of them. The joy of walking in nature, the stillness of focusing on the sounds around us, and the excitement when something interesting pops into view are just some of the reasons that make hiking one of our favorite activities. Wishing you all happy trails.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.