Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Nature Therapy

They have better words for it in other languages.  And it's looked upon as a necessary element of people's lives.  Part of good health.  We all must spend some time in nature!  Often.  And with intent.  I call it Nature Therapy.  And I need it.  Especially after being inside all winter.  Especially because I'm who I am.

This last year we discovered that at least part of the woods next to our property belongs to us.  And since it had become a dumping ground for everything people wanted to just get rid of or not think about anymore, it was not much of a nature spot.  But this Spring, I put on my gloves and got out my rake and went to work.  Picking up the trash of a thousand poor litterbug decisions made by the previous people who owned our house or by our neighbors or by random others letting their trash blow away and catch in our woods.  So much plastic!  Endless amounts!  So much trash.  Broken bottles.  Soda cans.  Bits of broken pool cover.  A snorkel and mask.  Old chunks of sidewalk cement.  Old stuffed animals!  Rotten leather gloves. It was a mess!

I will never be able to get every little bit of deteriorating plastic up, but the woods are mostly back to being woods!  Nature feels and looks like Nature!  And I've made myself a little hideout.  With a path or two for walking around.

This is my hideout!  It is the perfect rock chair between two trees.  I can sit here and soak in the sounds and smells and feel of the natural world.  I can see the lake.  I can see the sky.  I can see leaves and bark and and tree trunks.

You can't quite tell, but I've made a path through here.  It's a very short trail, but it's mine.  And I love it!

As if Nature knew I would need some encouragement, the entrance to my trail has the only blossoming bush in our little forest.  And today, it blossomed!

A true and undeniable sign of Spring!  The first blossoms of the year!

In Japanese, it's called "Forest Bathing" or "Shinrin-yoku!"  What a lovely thought!  Letting the forest bathe you clean from all the worries of the world!

There are numerous studies showing how spending time in nature is good for one's health and disposition.  There is even a book entitled, Your Brain on Nature, by Eva M. Selhub and Alan C. Logan.  Natural environments promote positive emotions and give you heightened physical and mental energy!

I hope to spend at least 30 minutes a day in my little Nature Spot.  What will I learn?  What will I feel?  How will it change me?

Today I saw what the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis) leaves look like when they are unfurled!  What a lovely shape and color!

And there is something else coming up!  Maybe I'll find out tomorrow!  New birth!  New discoveries!

Today, the Red-bellied Woodpecker showed me his home.  I learned his little repetitive call.  And he called it to me every time he came home to his if to announce that I was welcome to take his picture again!  He was back!

His wife was a little smaller, but she was unafraid and came quite close to me.

 The dead tree isn't really dead and is sending out small branches of life here and there up the trunk.

While I was out there, the rain started sprinkling down.  It was a soft quiet rain, barely noticeable and barely getting me wet.  It brought out more smells of the forest floor and its gentle pitter-patter was musical and quieting.

From somewhere far away, I hope, the light ripe smell of skunk came wafting in.  It wasn't unpleasant.  Just natural.  Part of the whole experience.  My breathing slowed.  My heart was filled.

There is something magical in the woods.  Or spiritual.  It is useful and needed.  And I'm glad I had some today.

"It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit."  —Robert Louis Stevenson 

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