Has the weather started to feel glorious yet where you live? The season of growth, green plants, chipper fauna and warm air has finally settled in southeast Michigan. Our dog often races outside in the morning to playfully chase a rabbit into the woods. My daughters don sun hats on walks (as long as I can convince them to keep the hats on) and we seek early morning rather than late afternoon walks to enjoy comfortable outdoor temps.
Last week I hinted at the themes for the posts I’ll be sharing this week and the two to come. I want to help you enjoy the outdoors, nature, and even (dare I say it?) social distancing more. Call it mindfulness, meditation, relaxation exercises or scientific observation. It will lower your blood pressure, hopefully help you feel a little better about this moment and notice something new about your life and environment in this moment. To unlock some of the wonder, we’ll start with the most basic approach: observe.
On a hike, as you sit on a park bench, or look out a window. Learn the names of birds, bugs and/or plants (feeling lost, you’ll be amazed what google finds you with simple keys of your region, the color and shape of whatever you’re looking at). Keep a record of what you see, how many, how frequently, what time of day and where you see them. You might find you really like to watch the sun reflect off a nearby river at a certain time of day, or that mist is worth getting up a little earlier to see float over your town in the morning. Just a take a look around.
Close your Eyes and Listen
What do you hear? Are the sounds close or distant? How do the sounds feel in your body and especially your nervous system (e.g. soothing, jarring, familiar, unrecognizable)? Are there few or many sounds? Are they of a mechanical, human, animal, or weather-related nature?
Use your Nose
Smell the air outside. Bend down and smell some flowers. Do you like their aroma? Are the scents familiar? Try smelling different trees: leaves and trunk. Do you notice their differences? Smell the air when it’s dry outside, smell it shortly before a rainstorm and smell the air after a rainstorm. What smells different after rain?
This is far from comprehensive, but a start to what I do with my girls outside. Spoiler Alert: we never get bored. We do have a lot of fun. We’re learning a lot too. A couple of weeks ago we met our first rose breasted grosbeak. I didn’t remember its name the next time we encountered one, but my 2 ½ year old quickly set me straight. Maybe you’ll learn something from an unexpected source next time you are observing too.