“For there are some people who can live without wild things about them and the earth beneath their feet, and some who cannot. To those of us who, in a city, are always aware of the abused and abased earth below the pavement, walking on the grass, watching the flight of birds, or finding the first spring dandelion are the rights as old and unalienable as the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We belong to no cult. We are not Nature Lovers. We don't love nature any more than we love breathing. Nature is simply something indispensable, like air and light and water, that we accept as necessary to living, and the nearer we can get to it the happier we are.”
-- Louise Dickinson Rich (1903-1991)
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The idea of staying in touch with the earth in winter may sound like a stretch – since after all, we can’t exactly lounge around a lot outdoors on cold days.
Yet some people do manage to find ways to connect regularly with nature during this season, in spite of the challenges. It’s easiest if you enjoy outdoor activities.
The “why” of maintaining such a connection should need no explanation. And anyone who feels stressed, or out of balance, is an especially good candidate.
Not that feeling discombobulated or “out of sorts” is a prerequisite for enjoying the rewards of nature, of course. There’s an enrichment that anyone can benefit from.
And just how can we connect with the earth on cold days? It’s obviously physically easiest in warm weather, when we can sit on the grass or ground.
Walking on the earth helps in any season – whether in our hiking boots, or (on non-rocky ground, and in summer) in soft shoes, or barefoot next to a lake.
But even hiking on frozen ground, or in snowshoes, and sitting briefly in the snow – properly bundled up, of course – can be calming, restful, and comforting.
Some releasing of stress and letting go of worries seems to happen naturally when we’re close to the earth, whether hiking or spending quiet time in a park.
And research has shown that while we’re indoors, just thinking about nature or viewing nature photos can positively affect our mood and immune system.
Most therapeutic of all is to get out often, locally or further afield… and spend time communing with Mother Earth herself (whether on hikes or close to home).
-- Charlie Cook