by Todd Walker
Even at 40 degrees (it’s cold for southerners) and a brisk wind, we had to get outside. Five minutes from our house my buddy has 60 wooded acres of paradise.
Last week I assisted my 80 year-old friend on a walk-about on his property. He’s been recovering from a car wreck over 4 years ago which left him near death – even walking is a challenge at times. My buddy (let’s just call him Buddy) wanted to see the flowers blooming down by the creek.
Our quest: See the ground cover that blooms this time of the year. He asked if I had ever seen this flower. If I had, I’d never taken slowed down enough to notice. At his age, and at this point in his journey, I began to see the wisdom of slowing down and smelling the wild flowers in their season. They won’t bloom again ’til next March. Buddy knows when the mushrooms pop up in late May and early June. He harvests what he can in his condition – the easy, low hanging fruit of nature, if you will.
This walk-about was different. For the first time in four years, Buddy walked the creek he loved, gazed upon the blooming ground cover, and reminisced on an earlier time when his once healthy legs faithfully carried him over the crooked creek allowing him to drink from the many springs on his property. He’s no different from any of us reading this. We are genetically designed to be in nature, to experience its fullness, it’s wide-openness.
Get wild. DRG and I decided to go walk the creek yesterday. The main purpose was to clean up trash that was lodged below the small waterfall. With hip boots on, I waded in the cold water and began the clean up. DRG assisted with the camera. We turned the creek back to its original state so Buddy could enjoy it as he remembered it on our next walk-about.
What a walk in the wild can do for you
A walk in the woods, spending time in nature, even for a brief time sets our true nature free. While there yesterday, DRG and I were intent on listening, seeing, touching, smelling all the wild had to offer. We walked carefully over the ground cover that beginning to bloom taking in their natural beauty. The recent cold snap had the heads of the flowers coiled tightly and bent towards the earth. Still, we were in the woods, away from the sterile indoors breathing in mother nature.
The wild place on our earth still occupy our bodies, even down to the cellular level. Neglecting our nature, we can’t live our fullest intended purpose. Walking on our man-made carpets and vinyl floors won’t do much to ground our souls. We need to experience rocky, uneven terrain, leaves and twigs crunching under foot. An occasional sticky thorn in the thigh. The cold water of a creek in early spring shocking our skin. Jumping from boulder to boulder, balancing over ripples. Being true to your nature.
From a purely survival standpoint, the wilderness has much to teach us.
- Listening skills. Our ability to focus on nature’s noise is elevated in the wild. Approaching predators gave auditory cues to our ancestors in time for them to react – and survive. I’m fully aware that not everyone can escape the man-made noise surrounding us. To accomplish this, an effort and plan has to be made. DRG and I could have chosen to stay at home. It was a conscious effort. It won’t just happen. Make it happen.
- Health. There’s actually science that supports the restoration of our senses when we spend time in nature. Especially when it involves water. “Forest therapy“: take two hours in the woods and call me in the morning. Actually, as little as 20 minutes will decrease your pulse rate, blood pressure, and stress markers.
- Natural Killer cells. Studies also show time in nature boost NK cell activity. With DRG’s good cancer report, we plan on spending more time in the wild to help release her NK cells on the invaders.
- Watching water cascade over the rocks is mesmerizing. We set up my EmberLit stove on top the waterfall, boiled water, and drank tea. It was so much better than inside coffee shops. Always ask for a side of nature with yours
Every chance you get, spend some time in nature. If you work in the city, find a wooded park to eat lunch in. Take your shoes off and feel the grass on the bottom of your feet – it’s called grounding. Who cares if they call you a hippie or cavewoman. Scoop up a handful of dirt and smell the earthy smells.
Buddy took me to a large, flat rock in the creek bed last week. He said he had always wanted to sleep overnight on that rock. Lesson: Take the opportunity to do crazy, spur of the moment ideas. Life changes. We won’t always be physically able to do things we did in our younger day.
Seize the day. DRG and I did, and we can’t wait to get back to the wild.
Your turn. We’d love to hear your experiences in the wild – however short or long.
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