Five Minutes In Nature

As part of my new self care routine, I have been trying to start each day with five minutes in nature. That means five minutes in my back yard studying whatever I see.

Bees, moths, flowers and weeds are common subjects. Sometimes I snap phone pictures but the priority is always on enjoying the sounds and sights of these remarkable natural elements.

Yesterday’s five minutes were especially pleasant. When I walked outside, this guy was visible from inside the screen porch door.

Then I noticed this dainty little thing.

I was so busy studying these two that I nearly missed this character. Can you see that he looks camouflaged?

The purple balloon flowers are prominent right now and put on quite the show amidst all the rudbeckia and hostas.

Some of the flowers on my front porch got scorched a few weeks ago. Others are thriving but growing unevenly in the flower boxes. Isn’t that the way life goes? Even when we do well, it may not look how we expected.

All the same, the view is pretty at sunrise.

I just started doing my morning moment of nature about a week ago but it has quickly become a favorite part of my day. To steal away before work and simply absorb the sounds and sights of a new day is calming and good for the soul. I feel better equipped to face the day after a few deep breaths and a look around.

You should try it if you can. Really. It sounds nuts when your life is busy but time in nature has many positive benefits including sharpened senses and increased focus. Not to mention the stronger sense of life satisfaction that comes from being outside.

Morning works best for me but you should try it whenever it makes sense for you and see if it helps!

Self Care At Its Finest

Monday, 9:06 p.m.

My workday is complete, dinner dishes are washed and I’m lounging in a hammock on the screened porch. My parents gave me this hammock, a long ago Fathers Day gift that my dad never used.

It was in their way but it now holds a prominent position on my back porch. I just set it up over the Independence Day weekend and it has quickly become my new favorite hangout. From here, I can see trees and a slice of sky. From here, the birds and crickets, katydids and frogs are my only companions during many hours of the day.

After work tonight, I braved the heat to relax and read a magazine until I drifted off to sleep. It was hot but something about this hammock relaxes me and alleviates muscle pain. A short nap was exactly what I needed on this very long Monday.

That break was necessary and nice but not nearly as pleasant as this midsummer evening.

The air has cooled and the humidity has dissipated, almost like magic. A light breeze causes the treetops to sway and produces a gentle sound amongst the leaves. The shorts and tank top that were appropriate just minutes ago suddenly seem inadequate.

At 9:15 pm on July 11, it’s still light out but not light enough to continue reading my book. I do have white twinkle lights hung along the ceiling but getting up to turn them on would ruin the mood. Besides, the lightning bugs are just gearing up for their evening show and I hate to detract from their efforts.

I sit now in near darkness, except of course, for the light of my phone. An opossum just silently scurried past the porch. He paid me no mind but I wished him well. They eat ticks, small rodents and even prey on snakes. They are so ugly they’re cute and I welcome this night shift worker into my yard to help maintain my peaceful little habitat.

The birds are mostly quiet now, replaced by the gentle hum of locusts and occasional call of a distant Great Horned Owl. In the darkness, I can better appreciate the aromas of pine and soil and some kind of decaying wood.

Yes. This is my happy place and I am grateful for it.

As long as I’m expressing gratitude, I am grateful that these simple pleasures are even more luxurious to me than a day at the spa. This, my friends, is self care at its finest.

After The Storm

We had some excitement last night, waiting for severe weather to move through the area. We were under a tornado watch for most of the evening until it got ramped up to a tornado warning.

Everything turned out fine where I live but it sounds like a tornado touched down in an area where I often hike and where I had intended to hike last night.

When my phone started buzzing with notice to take cover, I packed up Scout in his backpack carrier and we headed to my parents house where I spent the evening in a small bathroom with my folks, a German Shepherd named Fritz, and Scout’s carrier strapped to me while I relaxed in the bathtub.

Fritz and Scout didn’t understand what was happening but they were troopers. The other three cats who live with my parents hid out under the bed.

As of this writing, I’m unclear as to the damage elsewhere but the power outage map is pretty comprehensive.

Since I tend to find humor at inappropriate moments, I’ll tell you that I had to giggle at one point. I went to meet a tornado dressed in hiking clothes and a sun hat with my cat and a big purse filled with snacks, water, a book and my journal.

Clearly, my priorities are straight. At least I had a book and cat.

When the tornado warning was downgraded to a severe thunderstorm warning, Scout and I headed home to our dark house. While we don’t know how long the power will be out, I was happy to just have a home to return to when others may not be so lucky.

It was then that I saw a good omen- a rainbow so large I couldn’t capture it all in one photo.

Here’s one more look.

What’s the old saying? Don’t fear the storm for the rainbow’s never far behind.

No Winter Lasts Forever

No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn. Hal Borland

This was the view from my window early yesterday morning. While I will be happy for spring wildflowers, hikes and sunny adventure days, I’m equally happy to hold onto winter a bit longer.

We received about six inches of snow Friday night. Saturday was cold and windy and best spent indoors. It was nice cozying up in bed with my book and cat to luxuriate in the knowledge that our muddy brown landscape is again blanketed in something truly beautiful.

I did venture out for a bit to get my hair done but was quite happy to return home to make a good dinner and spend the evening on the couch watching a movie with Scout.

Of course, I do live in Ohio and this is actually the time of year we can experience all four seasons in a span of days. It will be in the fifties on Monday and in the seventies again by Thursday. It’s hard to tell what the following week will bring.

There’s something to be said for simply enjoying whatever this day brings and to remember that no season lasts forever. Every day is a gift and should be treated as such – even if you do think the weather is crazy!

The First Daffodils

The daffodils are finally blooming. Spring is near.

I have been stalking them for the last few days, waiting patiently for the first of these frilly little flowers to turn their faces toward the sun. That’s my cue to participate in my annual tradition to pick the first few blooms of the season.

Like my dad and my grandfather before him, I look forward to gathering up a few to bring inside.

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of bringing flowers in from the yard because it almost seems like torture to rip them from their natural surroundings and force them to live in my stuffy house. While flowers brighten my surroundings I just wonder how they feel about it.

I sometimes wonder if this is how my grandma felt or if she just liked to see her flowers outside. Either way, she was never thrilled when my grandpa picked her flowers. It was a true joy for him though and he looked forward to it.

When I was small, he would enlist my help because he knew she wouldn’t complain if it was me committing the offense. I was a really cute accomplice and it’s hard to be mad at a little girl with her hair in pigtails when she presents you with a fistful of flowers.

My dad loves to pick flowers to bring inside to my mother and she enjoys it too. From the first daffodil blooms of spring until the last roses of summer, he makes sure she always has a vase full of flowers.

Scout also enjoys daffodils in the house. Unfortunately, daffodils are poisonous to cats, dogs and horses and I didn’t realize this until he put his rabid determination to work in trying to get to them last night. There literally is nowhere safe or out of his reach inside this house except behind a closed door. I’m already regretting having them.

While it’s a nuisance, it is kind of sweet the way he enjoys fresh flowers as much as the rest of the family!

It’s true what they say. Happiness is in the small things.

Around Here

Around here, it has been cold and snowy. I have been enjoying hibernation, trying to balance relaxation with tending to my own health and wellness.

I have been taking the easy way out where dinner is concerned. This bag of stir fry is a step up from the egg sandwich and fistful of chocolate I would rather be eating when I’m cold and tired.

This book has been keeping my mind engaged.

As always, Scout keeps me on my toes.

I joined in a free art history webinar the other day and got a nice overview of the progression of early art through the Impressionists who happen to be my favorite artists.

This is a famous Claude Monet painting that I was lucky to see in Washington DC last year.

The webinar instructor had a down to earth approach to art and a wonderful ability to simplify big topics. If I had hundreds of extra dollars I would sign up for a paying course she offers on the Impressionists. She gave voice to what I have long felt but didn’t understand about these lovely works of art. I’ll talk about that another day.

For now, I’m trying to find a balance between work and home, self care and doing as I please, healthy skepticism and unhealthy mental ruts.

Winter is a time of hibernation. We recede into our homes as animals take to their dens. Even the hardiest of plants conserve their energy and rest in anticipation of brighter days ahead. Aside from a few walks, I have been happily hibernating and wondering what kind of rebirth might accompany the arrival of spring.

Around here, life is pretty good these days