Fresh Air Fridays in the Forest

Fresh Air Fridays is a program at the DuPage Forest Preserve that leads groups through St. James Farm on a relaxing walk.

Jill: I was hoping to get people from offices to come out here. Because when I was in an office, I would have loved if there was a guided event that I could’ve done during my lunch hour.

And so Fresh Air Friday was born. Jill Spealman has been volunteering here at St. James Farm since 2013. Her vision to get out from behind the blue glow of a screen has led to the creation of this DuPage Forest Preserve Program.

Jill: I sit at a desk all day, typing away and it’s great to get out here and look at something else, look at things far away and walk, stretch our legs and walk. That’s what is special about it. I also, when I give this walk, I’ll be talking about breathing and a couple things about mindfulness.

As Spealman leads a handful of people, she truly does often hit the pause button to make sure those with her remember to stay in the moment.

Pat Carlson: It was amazing and I loved the little sayings that she stopped and reminded us to breath and stay in the moment. Even while she was talking, I was worried, my mind keeps wondering. I wish it wouldn’t but it does. And I don’t know if I missed something but she kept bringing us back to the day.

Pat Carlson is one of the participants exploring the 600 acres that St. James has to offer. Trees, historical landmarks and wildlife are often mentioned as the group progresses along the trail.

Margaret: I learned about what wood ducks are and the history of St. James Farm. And the McCormick family and there was a house there and the Prairie path goes through here.

Invited by a friend, Margaret Bucholz agreed to come out and enjoy the fresh air on this Friday. Unplugging from the regimen and grind of daily life was a major draw.

Margaret: So often we get hooked on our calendar and go – what’s next? It’s nice just to relax and breath and take in the fresh air. And what a beautiful trail.

Julie Appler: Just like to be outside and I go to the Morton Arboretum and Botanical Garden a lot and, my husband is working on a horticultural degree. We live to go to forest preserves and go on walks.

And one of the best parts of it all? It’s Friday AND it gets you ready for the weekend

Jill: We get out here, we walk as a group. Thankfully the sun is coming out and it’s just a great thing to go back and face the rest of the afternoon with and slide into the weekend.

But first, a slide through the forest, a perfect chance to slide that phone into your pocket… and keep it there.

Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman

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