My friends and I have been hiking on the weekends. Monster hikes. We see waterfalls and meadows and clover fields and tide pools. We bring dogs and babies and more friends. We leave phones and iPods and makeup somewhere else.

It reminds me of Jane Austen novels, in which the party always takes a long walk in the country after breakfast, or before supper, or before all hell breaks loose due to a missing letter or an mis-overheard conversation.

We group in twos and threes, and converge together. We are quiet and chatty and raucous. We thank God that we are not Pioneers Making Their Way Across the Country for a Better Life and that in two hours we’ll be showered, feet up, watching the latest Netflix offering.

In my life I’ve spent so much time making dinner for people, meeting them out, planning big elaborate occasions because I want to see them and have the chance to chat, to get in deep, to reconnect. The 40licious realization is that you don’t need to have an excuse to see your near and dear ones, or to get to know someone new a little better. You just need to go out together and fill your heads with nature and the sound of rushing water, buzzing bugs and silence under sky. And walk.

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Vanessa McGradyUnplugged

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