The secret to youth is to fill your mind with beauty.          


There you have it. The answer to the question that sent Ponce de Leon through treacherous mosquito infested jungles on a futile journey to the New World. The quest that prompts millions to spend billions on potions in a jar, or on surgical nips and tucks, ends with this truth. It is the absorption of the beauty, found free of charge in nature, that will keep your heart clear and your mind cleansed.

Thoreau, our nations’ first self-proclaimed nature nut, walked four hours each day. He sauntered through the woods and over the hills and fields of New England so that his thoughts were “absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”  I have sold Real Estate in the city of Los Angeles for thirty years. Without my daily sojourns into the Santa Monica Mountains, I would not be able to divest myself of the inherent stress generated in this most worldly of professions. My walks allow me time to digest the constant stimulation of urban life and the opportunity to reflect and recycle thoughts in the format that is, hopefully, satisfying to readers.

My connection with Mother Earth began in my teenage years in Southeastern Alaska.  Lonely walks along misty shores allowed tumultuous adolescent thoughts to settle. According to an anonymous source who etched the following into a cliff wall at Anza Borrego Desert, “Solitude is not something you hope for in the future. It allows a deepening of the present and without it you will never find it.”  The desert landscape supports this theory. From a distance it looks barren, but as you come closer and examine it in silence, you see creatures scurry at your footfall and plants spring to life from parched soil.

The quest for genuine solitude has taken me to far flung places. As a lone hiker on the Seduction Trail in Haines, Alaska, while keeping a constant vigil for bears, I stumbled into the pond of a bull moose; in Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay, I nearly got “caught out” for the night by a fast rising high tide. I made the hand over hand climb to the top of Mt. Manaia, the Protector on the North Island of New Zealand, a sacred place to the Maori people, to view the world unfettered by the flotsam of mankind.

Fired by the vivid, loving descriptions of John Muir for his Range of Light, I followed in the wiry, little Scotsman’s footsteps to the Sierra Nevada. An unfortunate misstep brought about the story Falling in the Footsteps of John Muir, written after I was airlifted out of the Sierras with two broken ribs. The pain of my injury has passed, but the magical beauty of the alpine meadows veined with luminous, tinkling rills is with me still. 

My appreciation for nature’s jewel box took me to Kauai, the most luxuriant of all the Hawaiian Islands with velvet, pleated cliffs and treacherous seas fending off newcomers. Here on this sacred isle where the mantle of mana (spiritual power) is so great that Kauai evolved in unmolested solitude, I plugged into the cosmic mainline. This was the beginning of a thirty year love affair with the Islands and the People of Old that culminated in my historical fiction/fantasy novel, Wai-nani, A Voice from Voice from Old Hawai'i.  For Hawaiians, all life on the land comes from the sea. My protagonist, Wai-nani, or Beautiful Waters, is half-human, half fish without the benefit of a mermaid’s tail.

Today, my mission is to get to as many naturally beautiful places as I can before they are no more! I have hiked, biked, kayaked, and ridden on horseback through some our most precious wilderness areas. My soon-to-be published collection of travels essays, Lost Angel Walkabout  speaks of the healing power of the wild. Gretel Ehrlich, of “The Solace of Open Spaces” fame, reminds us that “we humans do not save beauty; rather, beauty saves us.” 




AFFILIATIONS:

North American Travel Jounalist Association
Travel Intelligence
Empowered radio host Tori Eldridge interviews Linda Ballou
Linda Speaks candidly with Anne Holmes, Boomer in Chief, of the National 
Association of Baby Boomer Women about herself and her work.  Read the interview.





Linda Ballou
Author

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