and a request for help
A couple days ago, my phone dinged with one of its constant string of notifications, and I found a headline from The Atlantic staring back at me: America is getting lonelier and less outdoorsy.
The subheading was the real kicker: Our relationship to Earth and our relationships with one another are deeply intertwined.
I couldn’t agree more. There’s a truth to the word “grounded”. When we’re in touch with earth and with the cycles of nature, we get that sense that all will be okay. That we can handle what comes. That we’re supported.
This is why I’m brainstorming ways to help people reconnect, especially people who either don’t have a lot of time or don’t have easy access to nature.
One of my earliest memories is of walking through a blackberry thicket with my grandma in the mountain cove where she lived, carrying a bowl to capture all the lovely berries we picked. A few made it into the bowl, anyway – enough for the cobbler we baked when we got back to the house. That dual relationship, with the blackberry thicket and with my grandma, is something I still cherish, though both have left this world. I can still get a little bit of that feeling back each time I go blackberry picking and think of her.
We all need that sense of connection – and the belonging that goes with it.
To that end, I’m working on putting together a program to help people deepen their connection with nature in meaningful ways, and I’m interviewing people to find out what would be most helpful. If you’re open to doing a quick interview with 5 questions over about 5-10 minutes, drop me a line at email@example.com.
I’d love to talk!
Nature through the senses
One tried and true way to include natural scents in your day is to plant scented plants next to a walkway so that they release their scent as you brush past. The best choices will depend on where you live, but a few plants to consider may be rosemary, mountain mint, and anise hyssop.
If you’re looking for a nature destination to catch some views, Shenandoah National Park is always a good contender. My son and I were there with friends recently, and the long range views are gorgeous.
Anyone else remember reading Heidi as a kid? One of the big ways she felt connected to nature through sound was to lay in bed and listen to the soughing of the pine branches outside her window. She was a smart kid. If you can, plant a tree where you’ll be able to hear it. If you can’t do that, then sitting for a while where you can hear a tree rustling in the breeze is a great idea.
My son’s grandpa is visiting, and we’ve been enjoying a warm cup of chamomile tea in the evening as we wind down. It’s an easy plant to grow, either in your garden or in a pot on a windowsill, but if you don’t have any of those available, you can pick up pre-packaged chamomile tea at any grocery store.
One of my favorite ways to engage the sense of touch in a garden is to run my hand over the seed heads of an ornamental grass. Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) are great for this, and they are native to the US. Great options for a sensory garden if you have the space.