During these difficult times, Nature can be a solace. We are fortunate to be able to get outside, while maintaining appropriate distance among us. Let's take advantage of that by going for a close-to-home, physically distant, mindful neighbourhood Nature walk!
The purpose of this walk is to use your senses to notice the natural elements in the neighbourhood where you live. Noticing nature and looking at green and blue natural things has been proven to lower stress levels, promote healing, and improve concentration. Take your phone or camera, if you’d like to snap some photographs or even record sound. If you're with kids, having a camera can really help them to capture their observations.
You don't have to go far. You can map out your walk ahead of time or just play it by ear. Let the kids take turns deciding where to go next! Try to hit a green space on your way - the more trees, the better.
Here are some things to pay attention to on your walk:
The sounds you hear: Wind in the trees? Birds? Stop and listen.
Birds and other wildlife. Earlier in the morning you will see and hear more. How many different bird calls do you notice? Can you identify any of them? Common birds you might see are chickadees, robins, cardinals, crows. And pigeons of course!
What are the squirrels doing? Watch them for a while. Perhaps you can see a squirrel nest in a tree (looks like a big pile of leaves).
Look closely at tree bark. From one tree to the next, it’s never the same. Often there is moss and lichen growing on the tree bark. How many different shades of green can you see on one tree? What does it feel like? What does it smell like?
Look up. Notice the cloud patterns, the sky. Wind in the tree branches. Are there leaves growing?
Look in. Are there any hollows or holes in the trees? What or who might be in there?
Look under! Lift up a rock if you dare! Earthworms might be making their way out, or other critters who like cool, dark places.
Look down. What tiny things are growing? Imagine you are an ant, what would this landscape look like to you?
Find a quiet spot, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Notice what you smell and how the breath feels going in and out of your lungs.
There are so many things to notice if we pay attention. Nature is all around us, pushing up out of sidewalk cracks and growing in asphalt, flying above our heads and sneaking around our backyards.
What amazing things did you notice on your walk? Share them with us in the comments or tag us in a post on facebook @urbanatureeducation.