Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mama Nature

My husband and I recently took our children on an impromptu trip to an Orchard located on the outskirts of Winchester, Va.  We had the most beautiful evening (unexpectedly, I might add), picking blackberries, raspberries and peaches.  The temperature was a perfect 80 degrees, there was a light breeze and the sun was warming our faces.  We went row by row picking the largest, most fabulous blackberries you ever did see.  At one point we were all silent, either stuffing our faces with nature's candy or too busy picking.  During that silence you could hear one tiny bird singing her song off in the distance.  You could also hear the drone of the cicadas and the leaves from the peach trees rustling against one another.  I looked at my children at that very moment and thought to myself, "we are all most at peace and content when we are outdoors and connecting with mother nature."  It was sort of a revelation to children are most happy when they are outdoors.  Looking back at my own childhood, I realized that all of my fondest memories were doing things outside.  I was so completely relaxed and happy during our 2 hour trip to the Orchard that I begged my hubby to make time to take us all back.  Here are some pictures from our excursion:

The older I get, the more I long to be outdoors and away from chaos and crowds.  A couple of months ago, my husband and I moved to a small town located about 50 minutes west of DC.  We have a backyard and every morning we can hear dozens of birds (although it's more of an infestation up in my hood), but it immediately relaxes me in the chaos of the morning.  In any direction you drive there are acres of fields and trees and grass.  My husband makes fun of me because as soon as we get out of our immediate neighborhood and away from civilization, I have the windows down, I'm smiling, and keep repeating a million times how beautiful it is, I get giddy with excitement and I know that I resemble this:

On a recent date night in DC, driving was eliciting mini panic attacks every 60 seconds.  I'm no longer accustomed to all of the traffic and cars coming an inch from hitting my car.  I look back at my years of working in the city and think about how over-stimulating it was, too many smells (a lot of which are not pleasant), too many sights, too many sounds, people physically bumping into you.  It's all such a sensory overload for the body, mind and spirit.  We go from chaos all day long, then commute and go straight home, where the hum of appliances, like dishwashers, washer and dryers, air conditioners, TVs, radios, are constant in the background. We can connect with internet via multiple devices be it laptops, IPads, e-readers, our cellphones. Our cell phones ding with text messages, emails coming in, calendar reminders, or just plain ringing.  My children aren't old enough for the electronics and video games yet, but I will always push for us to be outdoors as a family even when they're teens.  I think "unplugging" from the electronics can be soothing, and it's important for even pre-teens and teenagers to experience it. 

I think removing ourselves from our hectic environments is so therapeutic, and boy, as I've grown older, I've grown to appreciate this more and more.  To be alone with your thoughts in the warm sun and a nice breeze with just greenery surrounding you is good for the soul.  In my opinion, hiking in the deep woods is the best form of free therapy a person can do.  What's better for you than the release of endorphins and your heart pumping while there is nothing but quiet and beauty all around you?  I think that we were all designed to spend more time in nature and connect to the earth and just feel more "grounded".

Years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I took advantage of one of his company's perks, to visit a vacation Guest House that they offer to employees.  We chose to visit the Hoboken, NJ guest house, but we didn't know that I'd be 4 months preggers at the time that we signed up for it.  Our 5-day stay coincided with what turned out to be record breaking heat in New York City.  We spent the 1st day schlepping around the city, cab to cab, visiting building after building (looking for bathrooms mostly), walking through crowded Little Italy and Chinatown.  I was the meanest, most cranky, acting like a 2-year-old you ever did meet come 6pm.  I swear it must have been trash day for the entire city that first day that we were there because there was tons of trash all over the sidewalks, or maybe it's like that everyday?, I don't know.  The smell of sour milk and dead animal filled every block, and being preggers and consequently gagging, I felt like I had been dropped in hell.

The only breeze being generated was that from cabs and buses whizzing by and spewing their exhaust all over us.  I was in a hot, spoiled milk-smelling, exhaust-ridden, noisy environment and one look at my face said it all: I wanted out!  We took the ferry back to our Guest House and revised our itinerary, what did we do?  We spent the next four days in Central Park, and I was as happy as a clam. 
Here are a few pictures captured from our Central Park trip (can you tell that I LOVE black & white photos?):

In my twenties, I would have been in love with the bright lights and excitement that the city had to offer.  You could people-watch, take in the sights and sounds and be part of the action in what is one of the coolest cities in the world.  Lately though, just hanging with the birds and trees makes me the happiest girl in the world.

I wonder if the next couple of decades will leave me yearning for different surroundings, perhaps the city will be appealing to me again, and I will find the great outdoors boring, who knows? In the interim I will soak in the beautiful serene countryside surrounding me and be thankful for mama nature.

Dear Mama Nature,

Disclaimer: I want all of mama nature's creatures to stay in their environment and not in my home or on my person.  :)

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