This Sunday, with its record-breaking warmth for mid-November, seemed like a perfect day to take a trip I’d been thinking about for awhile. Grab a Portland bus, ride through the ghetto, cross into Irondequoit and get off at Sea Breeze to walk through the park and along the beach to my mother’s neighborhood. A lovely four miles or so.
The first mile takes you through the woods along the park road on a walking and biking path, a perfect place for a city person to experience a little shinrin-yoku, a Japanese concept that translates as forest bathing. It’s a perfect name that really needs no explanation. To walk and look up through the mostly leafless trees and smell the woods in fall is to bathe in something I simply can’t reproduce in my city neighborhood. Even with the traffic on the road nearby, the paved path takes you into a narrow wood and finally down to a boardwalk across a marsh, just a stones throw from Lake Ontario, hidden by a bluff.
When you reach the lake, you can stay on the asphalt path or climb down to the beach, a far better option, especially as the historically low lake level has doubled the width of the sand and the shallow waves have created a packed sandy surface perfect for walking. Aside from the regular crunch of millions of zebra mussel shells under your feet, it is quiet.
The lake offers another hidden vibration, the presence of large amounts of negative ions, which supposedly have a similar effect to bathing in a forest:
“What is a negative ion? A negative ion is a molecule with a negative charge assigned to it. Negative ions occur commonly throughout nature and can create an overall sense of well-being. Negative ions are found after a rainstorm (falling water creates negative ions) or after a lightning strike. Every home has its own built in negative ionizer- your shower. The smell in the air generated after a rainfall is actually the odor of negatively charged ions in the air.”
Whether you believe this or not, it is definitely therapeutic to spend time by moving water and Lake Ontario is a lot of it. Ions or not, the walk was a rare pleasure as we approach winter. Even the bus trip is important as it takes you through neighborhoods that too many of us ignore. We have a major poverty issue here that won’t disappear because we ride freeways around poor areas. All of this is awareness and we learn as much from a once pleasant, now boarded-up neighborhood as we do from a pristine park.