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:
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. :)