Let’s Take a Hike

Lady-slipper

Lady-slipper

It’s a beautiful spring day, the kind with just enough crisp in the breeze to start out with a light jacket, just enough sun in the sky to later slip it off. The Appalachian mountains call me this time of year. On the forest floor lady-slippers and trillium bloom yellow and pink, while high above, tall trees re-sheathe their limbs in green. Fat robins rustle in the nearby brush. Sun-dappled shade filters through the canopy, lighting a flame azalea on a far hillside, making it look for all the world like the mystical, ethereal burning bush.

I grew up going camping with my family and Girl Scout troop, and more and more in recent years I’ve sought again the solace of the trees. Or maybe I’m seeking more smarts—science tells us that time spent in nature both reduces stress levels and improves cognitive function. Elizabeth Kwak-Heffernan, in a May 2012 article in Backpacker magazine, cites a University of Rochester study (2010) that showed even 15 minute nature walks gave rise to a greater sense of “vitality”; she also describes an environmental neuroscience project that shows how “exposure to nature causes significant, measurable changes to the brain” that “let you think more clearly, focus more acutely, and perform to your maximum cognitive ability.” Continue reading

Gallery

Autumn, Confluence

Autumn: the season between spring and winter; a time of full maturity

Confluence: a flowing together of two or more rivers or streams; a coming together of people

Steve and I recently had the opportunity to wander Charlottesville’s Ivy Creek Natural Area, where Ivy Creek joins the Rivanna River, on a sunny autumn afternoon.  At the confluence, the currents of the two waterways pushed against one another, rippling the surface in constantly changing patterns, at times blending and swirling into one.  It is splendid days like these that remind me just why, perhaps, they call it “fall”ing in love.

“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore.  There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.”  –Albert Schweitzer