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