We can take a page out of the book of those homeowners who are creating wintry retreats. Fire pits, heaters, pizza ovens, lighting, canopies, ponds with heaters and other features can make your patio a winter destination. Check out these and other ideas in a recent article in the WSJ – http://www.wsj.com/articles/backyards-built-for-winter-use-1419362792
Instinctively we know that the nature accepts us for who we are as residents of this planet. It does not judge us for what we wear or for the type of car we drive. Special garden settings can help us heal at our own pace and in our own unique way. In a garden people can come together to understand the difficult things that happen in life and are not easily explained or understood.
Involvement in a garden can help us heal. This is a story that we hear time and again. The garden created after the shootings in Tucson in 2011 is one of those stories. The story on NPR (Jan. 6th) highlights how we can turn to nature for respite and answers. A link to the story is at: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/06/168619054/how-a-community-created-a-garden-from-sadness
This is the time of year to check out leaf colors. During the day today, I had to slow down to take in all of the colors along the roadside. One of the first trees to turn in this region are the Black Gum trees with their red and magenta hues. Sassafras are a particular favorite illustrating bright orange, yellow and red colors. The brilliant yellow of the Locust trees is almost blinding. The Maple trees are just starting to turn color, so the sequencing of the autumn color display goes on for weeks.
This is a great activity for everyone to get involved in. One of the ways is to take a walk outside in the garden and around the neighborhood. You will not only discover a wide range of trees, you will reconnect with friends and neighbors. Some activities include:
- Ask people what their favorite trees are. See what comes up as the most popular.
- Take a camera along to record what is found and to show others later. maybe have a slide show or hang pictures of favorite trees.
- Collect various samples of the leaves that can be brought back for identification. See how many different leaves can be found.
- Have a contest to see how many trees can be identified. Bring along one of the tree I.D. books or use one of the Apps’ for your phone such as ‘Leaf Snap’
- Organize a joint adventure between a school group and elders from the community for a joint lesson in tree identification
- Visit and arboretum or nature center to explore many of the native trees in your area – and meet new people at the same time
These and other activities can be planned easily and quickly. No special equipment is required. Just a comfortable pair of shoes or sneakers. Maybe a pad and pencil for recording the information. The goal is to get fresh air and exercise. Getting together to socialize and share stories is always a great thing to do, especially with this great fall weather.
One of my favorite trees is the Green Leaf Japanese maple – what is yours? Enjoy!
An article in the Wall Street Journal today, Aug. 30, talks about the benefits of spending time outside in nature. The author of the article, Shirley S Wang, suggests “Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds.” Research indicates how our memory and attention improves by as much as 20% after a walk in an arboretum. People who walk along a busy street show no cognitive improvement. So, plan on walking in the garden, an arboretum or other nature-filled setting. You will benefit from the experience. To read more from the article, “Coffee Break? Walk in the park? Why Unwinding is Hard.”, visit the link at:
Winter began, yesterday, December 21st. This seasonal benchmark means less time during the day light hours to accomplish our tasks. The day may seem to fly by when we focus on work, holiday preparations and our everyday activities. However, we may pass up our interaction with nature.
The shorter days translate into less daylight and earlier sunsets. This can cause us to be more interiorly focused. (A good book, a hot cup of tea and an easy chair can be very tempting.) However, we need to continue to get outside to help balance our circadian rhythms and produce melatonin. This will help offset feelings of tiredness, inactivity and malaise.
A recent study validates our need to walk for health and well-being. Jody Rosenblatt Naderi and Barani Raman have measured perceptions of people who walk for health purposes and determined the variables of the environment (weather, sound, water, light and other factors) that affect the decisions where to walk. The study “Capturing impressions of pedestrian landscapes used for healing purposes with decision tree learning” begins to look at how walking conditions and health are directly related.
So, be sure to take walks, even if they are shorter than normal during the winter season. Find a friend to walk with you to keep you company and help encourage you on. And, know that the research is helping to validate what we know to be true. Our mother was right. Playing (and walking) outside is good for us.