into the woods

The other day for the first time this year we went for a walk in the park just at the edge of town.

woods, spring, trees, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

There are hiking trails through woods and meadows and there's a disc golf course throughout. We just like to go to walk with the dogs, a nearby escape into nature.

It was glorious. So peaceful and fragrant. The scent of pine needles and moss. Of wild honeysuckle. The weather was just about perfect, skies so blue and the air warm.

Every time we go I wonder why we don't go more often. It feels so good for my spirit.

wildflowers, wild geraniums, spring, woodland flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I recently read a fascinating article on the Pith and Vigor blog about something called "Shinrin-Yoku" or forest bathing (not a literal bath, but "showering, taking in -- with all of our senses", immersion). In the article Dr. Roxanne Daleo, who works with anxious and ill children, treating them in part in the woods behind her home, explains a scientific explanation for why spending time beneath the trees is so good for you.

Have you ever felt it, too? It's like meditation. Slowing down. Being present. A sense of inner peace. The way you are filled up with energy and joy, with well-being. It's renewal of spirit and mind that doesn't happen quite the same way anywhere else.

It makes sense. And it's a good reason to escape to the wild more often. Pay attention to all your senses. The scents of leaves and pine needles. The songs of birds. Discover the wildflowers blooming everywhere. The wild geraniums and mayapples*.

mayapples, spring, woodland flowers, wildflowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The trillium.

trillium, wildflowers, woodland flowers, spring, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Every day I struggle with slowing down, with being present, but when in the woods, immersed in nature, that struggle falls away.

If you get a chance, bathe in a forest this weekend and see what joys you can discover.

*I can never look at a mayapple the same way since I learned that one of Matthias' chemotherapy drugs was derived from it. The fact that such a common, wild plant is the source of powerful medicine is amazing to me. So many drugs come from plants and I can't help but wonder how many undiscovered treatments an cures are growing out there somewhere.


  1. The forest looks wonderful. I would never go on my own though even though there is no-one who would want to accompany me! I will have to just go to the forest in my mind and imagine I am there in spirit! Did you take your sketch pad with you Anne? I bet there were so many beautiful sights as well as sounds. I would be enchanted just to find the trillium. Have a lovely, tranquil weekend :) Oh, just to add, I once heard that the cures for all ailments could be found in the rain forests. An amazing thought.

    1. Hmmm... I think you need to find a walking partner. Maybe you need to borrow a dog or two! :)

      And no, didn't bring my sketchpad. Barely had a chance to snap a few quick photos, but that's the way it goes with walking partners (especially the 4-legged variety... on second thought, maybe you don't want to borrow some dogs). :)

      Yes, it is an amazing thought that the cures are there (and disappearing at an alarming rate).

  2. This is exactly why we live where we do. To soak it all in every time we look out the window, walk in the woods, along the road and in the meadows. It took us years and years to get here, but it has been worth the wait.
    I got a lump in my throat when I read about mayapples. xo

    1. Yes. I'm so glad that you're living your dream, Karen.

      That's one of the reasons we moved here. It's a stepping stone position here in town, but being closer to nature makes all the difference.



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