Creative Inspirational Wisdom: Season to Season

This week, Sara Etgen-Baker reflects on the inspiration to be found in nature and solitude.


When the alarm sounded, I wanted to continue sleeping.  Instead, I slid out of the warm sheets away from the comfort of my husband’s body; peeked through the Venetian blinds; and noticed graceful flakes of pearly-white lace had dusted the tree-lined trails adjacent to my home.  Even though the mercury hovered just below freezing, I knew today was the perfect day for a solitary winter run.  So, I quietly donned my winter running clothes and headed downstairs.


Daylight had not yet turned the slumberous, dark blue clouds to their morning gray, and—for a moment—I hesitated at my front door not wanting to disturb winter’s peaceful silence.  When I stepped outside, my warm breath mingled with the crisp, cold air as it stung my cheeks.  As I began to run, my stiff legs begged me to turnaround; I ignored their cries knowing they would soon stop complaining.  Only my footfalls broke the silence as the gentle snow crunched under my feet.


As I ran through the woods that morning, nary an animal crossed my path; their tracks in the snow indicated that they had been here before me though.  The nippy air frosted my breath, and soon my breathing mixed with my footfalls creating a rhythm.  I ran effortlessly past fallen trees along the creek side with no thought of time or distance.  I wasn’t aware of speed either—just movement.


I ran past an icy pond cloaked by barren, frost-covered trees trembling like skeletons in the brisk wind.  Snow began falling around me making me feel as if I was running in a snow globe.  Soon, winter’s tranquility and purity enveloped me; time and distance became meaningless, and I imagined that the woods looked as it once did 100 years ago. I gazed into the distance; and for a brief moment, I thought I saw Henry David Thoreau standing outside his cabin near Walden Pond.  He was not there, of course; and there was no one and nothing except for what was right in front of me—miles of glorious solitude.


For years I’ve run alone along these trails in the woods—a quiet, almost sacred place every bit as wondrous as Walden Pond.  Generally, the only sounds I regularly hear on these solitary runs are birds chirping; small animals collecting nuts; and my feet as they gently land on leaves, pine straws, or snow.  I occasionally hear the pitter-patter of rain drops as they hit leaves and fall onto the underbrush and forest floor.  Sometimes a light rain cools my perspiring body and soothes my spirit.  Frequently, I immerse myself in my thoughts and dreams and feel invigorated.  Other times, the solitude nourishes the seeds of stories germinating in my head.


Here in the woods, though, solitude—as silent and powerful as light itself—forces introspection.  So, I linger in the solitude emptying and quieting my mind; then, I let go of the world and my ego—journeying inwards.  Here, I sometimes hear my inner voice whispering to me; I occasionally meet myself face-to-face and find the being within—the true self—that has been waiting patiently to be discovered.  I continue running—grateful for the solitude and the balance I now feel.  But at some point, I must turn around; follow my footprints; and return in the direction from whence I came.  Reluctantly, I approach the end of my solitary run—not wanting it to be over.


From season to season, I’ve run alone along the quiet trails in the nearby woods; and I’ve taken great pleasure in the solitude it offers.  And to quote Thoreau, “I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep…” I discovered long ago that solitude is necessary for me, for that’s where my creativity dwells.  And I can no more live without creativity than I can live without sleep.


Sara’s love for words began when her mother read the dictionary to her every night. Her manuscripts have been published in various anthologies and magazines including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guideposts, Wisdom Has A Voice, My Heroic Journey, Times They Were A Changing: Women Remember the 60s and 70s, and The Santa Claus Project. When not writing, Sara spends time with her husband of 34 years, Bill. Sara has been a member of the Dallas Branch NLAPW since 2014.  She enjoys the support and fellowship her affiliation with NLAPW brings into her writing life.  She may be contacted via email at:

“Snowy Forest” by dan /


WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts (or artwork) for our two series, Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business, up until Thursday, August 31st, 2017. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!



  1. Lois Batchelor Howard says

    Sara, how wonderful. I have not run for many years, but I feel like I just had the best winter walk or run ever. You write with such beautiful description. I saw and felt the setting and, actually, the solitude quietly drew me in. Thank you for this nourishing, inspiring writing. I also find solitude to be creative. After reading your words I feel a double solitude (it’s possible!) and a poem is now waiting for me. Thank you, Sara.

  2. Lovely post, Sara. It resonated with me. I realized after reading it that I, too, have that insatiable need for solitude, thinking time alone, to let the creative engines of my mind hum without other noise. You expressed it so beautifully and your photo was just right!