Nature nurtures us. Nature teaches, inspires, and provides. As far back as I can remember, it has always done these things for me. My parents divorced when I was two and I would visit my dad every other weekend. He lived in a rural area, where roads were dirt and the sound of howling coyotes filled the night. That sound scared me when I was a little girl and my grandparents told me there was nothing to worry about, it was a farm down the road and the coyotes were behind very tall fences. I believed them.
For Christmas one year, my dad bought me a bike to keep at the house in Gilmanton. I rode that bike along the dirt roads, feeling the wind on my face while carefully navigating the bumps and rocks in the road, but most of the time, I would just walk out back and into the woods. There wasn’t a path or a trail. I would just wander. I never got lost. I’d follow a squirrel through the leaf litter or a chickadee flying from limb to limb. I’d pull milkweed pods off their dried out stems and spread the seeds all around. I would come home dirty with leaves and thistle burrs in my hair from crawling through the brier. I felt at home, under the canopy of the oaks and birch trees.
Thirty years later, I still wander the woods and pull leaves from my now graying strands of hair. Being outside, looking up at the sky, seeing the sun shine through the leaves makes me feel grounded and fully awake.
Scientific research shows spending time in nature away from buildings and pavement, boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood and short term memory, restores mental energy, improves concentration, cognitive function and creativity.
I’ve heard people say they aren’t the outdoorsy type but maybe they should be. We sometimes think of ourselves as separate from nature but really we are nature.