Early Morning Rides and Walks

Since my return from the Maritimes I have continued getting outdoors earlier in the morning. For those of you who haven’t tried this, you are in for a treat. The quality of the air,  the light, the lack of noise and the stunning beauty of all the flowers. It’s true that the environment matters. Yet in Canada and elsewhere,  for all of our complaints, we have a plethora of parks and green space in our cities. Free for our enjoyment.

Right now, I seem to stop a hundred times on a walk or a bike ride because of one more beautiful blossom or the way the sun lights up a tree trunk. Yesterday, or was it Monday, I was gobsmacked when I came upon this scene. In my ten years in Ottawa, with an eye always peeled for the great blue heron, I have not witnessed this particular posture. It was a wondrous moment.

 

“Waiting is not mere empty hoping; it is an inner certainty – The I Ching

It felt like a privilege to be part of this moment.  Even though I always wish I had my camera with me, I never do when I am biking, and, still, my iphone does a good enough job. As I live longer I am convinced that the beauty of the natural world is our treasure trove for what ails us. It offers inspiration, solace, wonder, beauty, comfort, reliability, rest and peace. And the science is illuminating what we already know.

A Study

In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Two hours was a hard boundary: The study, published last June, showed there were no benefits for people who didn’t meet that threshold.

The effects were robust, cutting across different occupations, ethnic groups, people from rich and poor areas, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

“It’s well-known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and well-being, but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough,” White said. “Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”

The study by White and his colleagues is only the latest in a rapidly expanding area of research that finds nature has robust effects on people’s health — physically, mentally, and emotionally. Excerpt from an article published at The Yale School of the Environment

This summer I have been more determined than ever to take advantage of this beautiful time. Partially due to Covid, and partially due to turning 75 and realizing that the number of summers I have left are in decline. The burgeoning science on the benefits of nature is robust, but the science isn’t necessary to convince me of the benefits. I experience it in my mind/body/spirit. As for the two hours, it is a guideline. I suggest as much time as possible. Like when I was a kid and summer meant being outside all day long.

We can’t all be outside all day anymore, but we can get out everyday.

Take this morning. Weather didn’t look good but my friend and I went for a 50 minute bike ride. No rain came down but it was hot and humid even at 8:00 and it was misty. “A soft day” the Irish might say. The English would probably say it was “good for our complexion.” I would just say that it was delightful. Not many people around, incredibly beautiful and breathtaking flower beds planted by the National Capital Commission. Wooden Japanese style bridges to ride over, mostly flat and curvy pathways, a few small hills, and bird song. These morning adventures get my day off to the best possible start. Better than any cup of coffee and I never miss a good strong, black coffee. I also never want to miss another early morning in summer.

Notes

Note 1:) A favourite essay by Neurologist  Oliver Sacks who writes with wisdom and poetic flair. “I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.” Dr. Oliver Sacks

Note 2:) Note the golden bee in the banner photo. I took this on a walk with my cousin in Hampton, NB. If you click on it you can see the intricacies of the bee and also what looks like a newborn baby bee to the left of him. I only noticed it when I posted the photo today. Here is one stanza from a  poem by Antonio Machado that I am grateful for:

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Note 3:) I realize that I must sound like a broken record this summer. The truth is many people are suffering. Taking time/making time to spend time in nature is life giving. Look around. Take it in. Rest your eyes. Take heart. Consider making it a practice like yoga or meditation or going to the gym. Try it and see what happens. Let me know, OK.

Note 4:) I have received several messages this week telling me how this blog is helpful to them or someone they know. Thank you for letting me know. That’s what I was hoping for in a very ordinary way. I appreciate everyone of you who takes the time to read what I write. It is my privilege and my joy to do so. Warmest August wishes, Trudy

8 replies
  1. Emma Rooney
    Emma Rooney says:

    Love this Trudy, “We can’t all be outside all day anymore, but we can get out everyday.” The picture of the heron is precious as well. Thank you for sharing!

    P.S. That bee poem is wonderful too. What an image in my head to try and rest with after a long day.

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you Emma for your thoughtful comment. I love the bee poem too, especially that stanza. It has provided solace on several occasions. I hope you rest well.

      Reply
  2. Carol Ingells
    Carol Ingells says:

    Thank you once again for your open, honest and loving approach to life, especially as it is reflected this summer. I have trouble making myself get outside as using a walker is not all that comfortable and I am never alone. I’m grateful, however, for your encouragement.
    I hope I’ll hear a reply to my recent private email to you. Hope it wasn’t inappropriate. Many blessings each day, dear Trudy.

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you Carol for your comment today – I always appreciate them. Using a walker can feel like a nuisance at first. At some point it may become your friend. Of course some friends are high maintenance, yet we love them still. I will check my email and respond. No email from you is inappropriate. Take good care.

      Reply
  3. Janice
    Janice says:

    If ever I needed encouragement to get out in the early morning, you would provide it! I just came back from a walk and agree – the air is clear and soft, the traffic quieter, and even on residential streets, there are so many gardens to admire. Your heron photo is unique and you have such an eye for memorable moments. Thanks for all you bring to my day. love, Jan

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you dear Jan. You know what I mean and yet it can still take effort to actually do it. And the late August flowers are radiating. They too seems to be celebrating this summer. Hugs all around.

      Reply
  4. T Boyle
    T Boyle says:

    Update on the bee. I have heard from one of my readers that what I thought might be a young bee looks like a kind of ant. I will go with her assessment. Thanks A.

    Reply

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