Spring is a great time of year to wander in nature.
The rapid changes mean that by visiting the same plant or looking at the same branch out your window, you can notice the magic that is happening in a short time.
A black oak bud opening (photos on 4/29, 5/3 & 5/5)
There is so much to see, hear, smell, touch and sometimes taste. Using your senses to explore nature as you wander deepens your experience. Increasing your awareness of the natural world around you can bring you away from the many worries, concerns, and challenges of today. If you focus on a plant or creature that interests you, nature can draw you in and nurture you.
Mayapple emerging (photos on 4/14, 4/28 & 5/3)
I have been enjoying wandering in my yard each morning after my sit spot (more on these core routines below). There are so many amazing things. Is there somewhere you like to wander? What have you noticed?
Photos of hickory bud and the emerging leaves of a beech and tulip tree
Children know how to wander and be present to the wonders of nature. As adults, we need to relearn to give ourselves the gifts of timelessness and using our senses. Even if you have to set an alarm to limit your time, spending 5 or 10 minutes wandering and focusing your awareness on the natural world can be both enjoyable and stress-reducing.
4 different types of ferns unfurling
I know that taking the time to connect to the natural world around me has greatly increased my resiliency.
Here is an example of a wandering using my senses: I hear a bird and look towards the sound. After watching that nuthatch hop up the tree trunk, it flies towards the woods. I walk in that direction.
I notice a flower in the grass. I bend down and look at the delicate violet. I take a deep breath and savor the spring smell of damp earth.
As I stand up, I notice some ferns unfurling and pause to feel the hairs. Then my eyes wander to the new small leaves on a nearby tree.
The opening of the beech leaves is one of my favorite spring sights. I pick one of the larger, fresh, new leaves, pop it into my mouth, and chew. Yes, you can eat young beach leaves (too small and they are really fuzzy and too old and they get dry and papery).
Okay, it may not always be easy to use all 5 senses, but when you increase your awareness of the natural world, you can deepen your connection. Wandering in nature can take you out of yourself into a world of wonder... What do you notice?
If you keep your eyes and ears open, it is amazing what you can discover!
Share what you notice with a family member, friend or neighbor.
The hickory leaves are just starting to emerge from the buds...
Core Routines of Nature Connection
The are a number of routines that you can practice to deepen your connection to nature. Wandering and sit spot are two that I practice frequently. Wandering as a core routine can be described as the gift of unstructured time, being present and following your curiosity through the landscape without destination, agenda or future purpose. When you wander with others, you see what interests them and learn to be part of a community. Sit spot in its simplest form is sitting quietly and being present to the natural world around you. I will share more about sit spots in a future blog.
Everyone Outside’s core routines are similar to routines shared by the many organizations that are part of the nature connection movement. Everyone Outside is part of a network of nature connection programs whose philosophies are described well in the book Coyote’s Guide to Connection with Nature by Jon Young and others.