The forecasted foot of snow this weekend notwithstanding, spring is definitely in the air! Do you feel it? I know I certainly do! I feel its imminent arrival on my skin when I step outside and I smell it on the breeze whenever I open my windows. You know what this means, right? Yup, the season of being outdoors every possible waking moment has begun! In the past two weeks alone we hit the ground running with bike riding on our favorite beachside trail, romping around quite a few area playgrounds, swinging and playing in the backyard, and Avalon. Oh, Avalon.
Avalon Park & Preserve to be exact. Located in Stony Brook, not too far from our home, it is the place I turn to whenever unfettered time in nature is called for, whenever I yearn for a tucked away sheltered spot where the littles can run free and be the extension of nature they are meant to be. No filters. No barriers. Just space, and plenty of it. A break from the busy. Once inside, this- and only this- is what abounds. It’s a place with a heartbreaking, yet beautiful history that dedicates itself to restoring and preserving the natural flora and fauna of the area it calls home.
Avalon has been a favorite since we first moved to Long Island with tiny toddlers and only knew about the duck pond on Harbor Road. Little did we know the wonder just a few feet further down from where we stood, just past the beautiful wooden gate, where a simple wooden boardwalk begins. Year round, from dawn to dusk, all 84 of Avalon’s acres are given over entirely to its goal of providing visitors with safe and tranquil surroundings free of the commercial enterprise and jarring interruptions of quotidian life. It is a place for meandering and exploring, dog walking, mountain biking, running, and so much, much more.
When you have little ones in tow, however, it’s the “more” part that you really come for. It’s the placid afternoons watching them play hide-and-seek among the stones and statues of the labyrinth and searching for turtles by the pond. It’s the quiet smiles and chuckles as you eavesdrop on little conversations trailing behind you through the woods, the funny streams of thought and perplexing tangents conjuring up memories of your own childhood. It’s watching them scramble happily up on their “Elsa” rock on the red trail just past Rhododendron Road to play at castles and dragons for as long as they possibly can until the sun starts to set and the time arrives to turn back for home. It’s the place to go if you’re looking to let your mind and your heart wander, and to get away from it all even for just an hour or so.
It is…a happy place.