BDN Outdoors Editor Pete Warner rests on his backpack while taking a break during a recent turkey hunting excursion in the woods of Newburgh. Getting out into the woods can be a valuable way to escape the noise of everyday life. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

For me, there’s no better way to soothe the soul than being outdoors.

Toting a shotgun through the woods, trolling a streamer fly in a small boat on the lake, fly-casting in a gurgling stream. Those are some of the experiences that have brought me the greatest peace.

I took a little break while turkey hunting the other day. A bit winded from pandemic-induced inactivity, I sat down on a rock and shed my camouflage jacket.

I even stopped calling for a few minutes and just listened.

The calls of woodpeckers, hawks and songbirds echoed across the ridge.

I watched with a mixture of amusement and annoyance as squirrels and chipmunks scampered through the dried leaves.

The tree blossoms emitted a sweet fragrance that was distributed by the gentle breeze.

As the sun warmed my face, I felt a sense of comfort and contentment.

A little later, I noted a smell that resembled fresh cookies coming out of the oven. There were houses nearby, proving that you don’t have to be miles from civilization to reap the benefits of the outdoors.

You can do so in your own backyard, at the local park, during a walk around the block.

You just have to be willing to quiet your mind so you can truly grasp the grandeur of nature.

A walk through the woods can provide all sorts of interesting sights, such as this decaying tree that you can see completely through that was found in Newburgh. Remarkably, it still has numerous leaf-filled branches near the top. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

The world is unforgivably noisy. We’re bombarded with the sounds of home, work, driving in traffic or going to the grocery store. We distract ourselves too often watching TV, listening to music with our earbuds and getting absorbed staring at our cell phones.

Those things can clutter our thoughts and overstimulate our senses. Sometimes, they even distance us from our family members and friends.

It can be mind-numbing.

That’s why taking the opportunity to get outside, if only for a short time, can be a calming, healing experience.

We could all benefit from taking a little time to clear our minds and think about what’s really important: our families, friends and co-workers, someone in need.

What matters most is our relationships with each other. Escaping the noise, even for a short time, can help us put things in better perspective.

Experiencing the sights and sounds outdoors can remind us of how everything is interrelated and what a delicate balance exists.

Hopefully, the introspection that results helps us find the better part of ourselves so we’re happier.

My suggestion is simple: get out there.

Go walk in the woods or sit along a stream. Paddle a kayak on a small pond.

Be quiet. Listen. When you’re surrounded by animals, birds, trees, plants, flowers and even bugs, you’ll hear it.

It will be different for everybody, but you deserve it. And most of us need it, if only for a few minutes. Remember how being immersed in it makes you feel.

We’re blessed in Maine to have abundant opportunities to spend time in the beauty of the outdoors. Take advantage of it.

Leave the noise behind and get out there.

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Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...